The Montclair NAACP sent a letter Tuesday to the Montclair Police Department and The Montclair Town Council with recommendations to reform the Montclair Police Dept.
“The Montclair Branch of the NAACP is pleased to provide the Township with specific recommendations to provide additional transparency and accountability to the criminal justice system in Montclair “ says Al Pelham, President of the Montclair Branch of the NAACP.
The letter reads as follows:
To: Mayor Spiller and the Town Council:
The Montclair Branch of the NAACP is in support of the implementation of the points listed below for which input was presented to us by the following groups:
Montclair Citizens for Equality and Fair Policing,
For the People Foundation and
Montclair United (BlueWave of NJ and the Montclair NAACP).
1.) Body cameras should be worn at all times, activated at the onset of the call and through the duration of the said call. 2.) The body camera should have a field of view at least as broad as the officer’s vision and to be worn in the manner that maximizes the camera ability to capture visibility of the officer’s activities. 3.) Limitations on use of body camera – body cameras should not be used to gather intelligence based on 1st Amendment Protected Speech, Associations, Religions or to record activity that is unrelated to a response to a call for service or a law enforcement or investigative encounter between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public, and shall not be equipped with or subjected to any real time facial recognition technologies. 4) The Town Council should investigate the cost of the Technology needed to support the body cameras and either through The State Forfeitures Funds Program or a budget line item and implement this as soon as possible. 5) Disciplinary procedures should be documented for any encounter between an officer and the public in which body camera film is not available.
Explanation of Civilian Review Board —
A Civilian Review Board (CRB) is a municipal body composed of citizen representatives charged with the investigation of complaints by members of the public concerning misconduct by police
officers. However, many CRB’s have not had the authority, independence or resources to achieve their mission and as a result, complaints were not adequately addressed. Here are a few essential features to ensure that the proposed CRB is successful.
1.) The agency should be independent with secure funding.
2.) Board members should have a broad scope to review complaints including investigatory, as well as review authority.
3.) The board should have the power to conduct parallel investigations to supplement the internal affairs investigations
4.) The CRB should represent the community with majority of the board nominated by community organizations and the rest appointed by the mayor and/or council.
5.) The CRB will only be effective if its recommendations are taken seriously. Any CRB disciplinary recommendation that has been thoroughly and fairly investigated but not implemented or addressed by the police department should trigger a formal review process. 6.) The CRB should be transparent, responsive, and available to the public. At the minimum, community meetings should be held, and activity reports generated bi-annually.
7.) The CRB will have subpoena power and can force a police officer to testify.
Police Identification Business Cards
As the result of any encounter with the public and the police officer request paperwork, they should provide the citizen with their business card which will have all of their pertinent information.
These are just 3 of many recommendations that are being submitted by various community organizations with the goal to build upon and hopefully strengthen the relationship between the Montclair Police Department and the citizens of Montclair and its many visitors.
We will address other issues once we have successfully implemented the recommendations noted above.
President of the Montclair Branch of the NAACP. Presented July 28,2020