Bloomfield Subject of “Driving While Black” Report on Vice News (Updated)

Driving While Black

Update 4/12 at 11:45 am: Bloomfield Mayor, Michael Venezia posted the following message on the film on his Facebook page:

You may have seen a story in the paper or online about a report alleging racial profiling by Bloomfield Police, and I think it’s important for you to hear directly from me as your Mayor about these allegations. First, let me say that the men and women of the Bloomfield Police Department work extremely hard every day and do an outstanding job of keeping our community safe. When I became Mayor we instituted new procedures, reforms and technologies that have contributed to a 28% overall reduction in crime — a statistic we can all be very proud of — as well as measures designed to enhance community policing and build trust between officers and residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

We are disappointed in the study for a few reasons: we believe the methodology behind it is incomplete, and we did not have the opportunity to work with the authors to provide data and information that could have helped it be a more accurate reflection of the department. However, given the painful history of racially charged incidents between police and people of color both in New Jersey and across the country, our entire team is very sensitive to the issues raised by the study and we will be looking into best practices and potential reforms to ensure that our police officers are treating everyone fairly while still continuing to do an incredible job keeping Bloomfield safe.

Over the past few years Bloomfield has become a progressive leader among New Jersey municipalities in several ways — we were one of the first to pass an Earned Sick Days ordinance, we increased our minimum wage for municipal workers to $15/hour and we have balanced the need for new developments with open space and environmentally-friendly planning. Our police department is no different, as we have installed dashboard cameras on all of our police vehicles and we are in the process of implementing body cameras for our officers. Our police department is only the second in New Jersey to implement a system of tracking race in all police interactions and using the data to inform policy and public safety strategy. Thanks to this, we have a tremendous amount of information to work with to help us determine if there is a problem, and if so what the steps are to fix it.

We would welcome the authors of the study to meet with members of our local government, police department and our African American and Hispanic communities to discuss their findings and look for common ground and opportunities to keep improving and will be reaching out via letter to Seton Hall and the ACLU to attend a meeting and discuss these issues. Thank you for taking the time to read this — if you would like to help spread the word, please share this with your friends.

Vice News is airing a documentary report conducted by Seton Hall Law students that concludes racial profiling and targeting of non-residents is occurring at traffic stops in Bloomfield. The film is based on a new report from Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy & Research. The study entailed hundreds of observations of court appearances for traffic offenses and a small number of other minor offenses in Bloomfield Municipal Court, conducted by a team of trained Seton Hall Law School students for 70 hours over the course of a month.

In the trailer, Bloomfield Police Director Samuel DeMaio says the department does not engage in racial profiling.

Bloomfield Mayor, Michael Venezia, was asked to comment on the film and said once he is able to see the whole film, he will make a comment. More about the study and reactions at NJ.com.

 
 

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1 COMMENT

  1. At the Monday 4/18/16 Bloomfield Town Council meeting mayor Venezia admitted that the $15 minimum wage ordinance has not passed – and yet he keeps spreading this “we increased our minimum wage for municipal workers to $15/hour”. I know because I asked when I saw them hiring someone at $10 per hour.

    The mayor can keep denying it but Tuesday night’s (4/19/18) meeting brought out many people – their testimony and the numbers clearly show racial profiling – an illegal and immoral act.

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