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Newark Police to Spend Summer Competing for Best Community Policing

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The Newark Police Foundation is funding a contest this summer to see which precinct can come up with the best plan for improving relations with the city's youth.

This summer will bring a new initiative to try to improve the relationship between the police and the young people of Newark.

It’s a community policing contest. Each precinct will develop a program to try to build trust with kids. The winning program will be implemented citywide.

Former New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino is head of the Newark Police Foundation, which is funding all this. He says the winning effort will have to show some staying power.

“You can’t do this kind of thing as a one-off,” he said. “You can’t have a party, a block party, once in the summer, these initiatives have to be sustainable and repeated over time.”

He said this is especially important now, since during the lockdown contact between the community and cops was very limited.

Porrino said trust is everything.

“When trust is missing between law enforcement and the community bad things can happen,” he said. “Police encounters are more likely to turn violent, community members are less likely to communicate with police in a way that is often very helpful.”

He told of a time he met a 3-year old at a preschool in Elizabeth, during his time as attorney general.

“When I sat with the rest of the kids she didn’t want to sit with us,” he said, “and as I was leaving I tried to give her a high five and she wasn’t having it, and I said what’s wrong? And she looked up at me and said I don’t like cops.”

Porrino added that, of course, he wasn’t even wearing a uniform.