PARK RIDGE, N.J. -- Park Ridge police were among a small group of law enforcement agencies and officers from New Jersey honored Monday by state Attorney General Christopher Porrino for "outstanding achievements and innovation in community policing throughout the state."
Porrino presented the 2017 Community Policing Awards to three Bergen County recipients -- Emerson, Midland Park, Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lakes police -- at a ceremony Monday in the Rutgers University Livingston Campus Student Center in Piscataway honoring nearly 30 altogether.
“I firmly believe that a successful community policing program is far more than uniformed police officers walking the beat,” Porrino said. “Rather, it’s an overarching strategy that depends on the collaboration between police departments and community groups working together to identify and solve local neighborhood problems.
"Today, we recognize and commend these outstanding law enforcement agencies and officers for their innovative approaches to fostering relationships of collaboration, trust, and understanding between police departments and the community.”
Highlighted innovative approaches to community policing included officers reading with kindergarten students, engaging with entire families to steer kids away from gang recruitment, movie night, pop-up barbecues, coffee/ice cream/pizza/shop with a cop, a swim meet and spending full days with youngsters on field trips, cultural programs and community events.
Educational programs featured anti-bullying, gang awareness, Internet safety, senior fraud, distracted driving, substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and a mock police academy.
The award ceremony featured video presentations and a panel discussion from selected law enforcement agencies showcasing their programs that could readily be duplicated and might serve as a model for other police departments.
Joining Porrino in honoring the local officers were state Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig, the State Association of Chiefs of Police and community and faith-based leaders.
“The goal of this awards program is to recognize novel and successful community engagement initiatives from around the state, and to learn from those agencies that have succeeded in this field,” the attorney general said.
“The takeaway from this program is that the honored agencies clearly demonstrated the power and effectiveness of strong community outreach programs that promote transparency, build communication bridges and break down barriers,” he said.