Led by the Institute, New Jersey Communities Forward (“NJCF”) is a coalition of federal and state law enforcement as well as municipal chiefs of police, the statewide conference of the NAACP, and other civil rights organizations created to enhance safety and increase economic opportunity in New Jersey’s urban communities. At its core, NJCF works to build bridges for communication between law enforcement and the communities they serve. These conversations are not themselves an end, but are an important gateway towards a more durable set of relationships and sustainable community-based solutions. We believe progress on most difficult social issues and conflicts require building trust, creating space for candid conversation, and practical problem solving. It is our hope that by bringing together community leaders and members, law enforcement, and business entities to solve problems, we will foster better relationships and move communities from dialogue to measureable and sustainable results.
To date, NJCF has convened five community forums. Each involved both high-level official participation, including the United States Attorney for New Jersey, and broad-based community representation. These discussions took place across racial and ethnic lines and included police officers and community members drawn from among the staunchest critics of the police. NJCF is now planning county-based conversations on fair and effective policing. The anticipated outcomes include proposals for community-based and supported legislative and administrative reforms to practices and policies at the state and local levels, addressing areas including data collection and reporting, investigation of and reporting on police use of deadly force incidents, police recruitment, training and promotion, community policing, and police oversight bodies.