TRENTON – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and social distancing measures remain in effect, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal recently announced a series of virtual meetings that, despite the public health crisis, will provide an opportunity for continued community engagement with law enforcement.
The fifth virtual meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 28, at 12 p.m. The session will be a quick 30-minute lunch and learn focused on resiliency on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Grewal will be joined by Cherie Castellano, Rutgers National Center for Peer Support Coordinator and COP2COP program director, Sergeant Antonia Gonzalez of the Long Branch Police Department and Detective Matt Burd from the Division of Criminal Justice. The program will discuss COP2COP resources, the advent of resiliency rooms to promote mental health and the Division of Criminal Justice’s efforts on the front line.
Anyone wishing to participate in next Thursday’s virtual event can do so by registering here.
“During the month of May we traditionally recognize the dedication of our law enforcement community and honor those members who we have lost. One way we support our brothers and sisters in blue is to provide access to trained and supportive professionals to help manage not only the day to day stress of their careers, but the additional pressures that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year more than ever, we appreciate their personal and emotional sacrifices, and encourage them to take care of themselves and their families. We are committed to making sure that no officer suffers in silence. We cannot say it enough - there is no stigma in asking for help,” said Grewal.
In August 2019, Grewal announced the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement, a first-in-the-nation statewide resiliency program to promote the emotional and mental well-being of New Jersey law enforcement officers. It requires every law enforcement agency in the state to appoint at least one Resiliency Program Officer or “RPO” who is responsible for implementing the program in their agency. The program is designed to change a culture in which officers are often reluctant to seek help for work-related stress. The program fosters an environment that encourages officers to communicate with each other and with their families.
As a result of the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement, COP2COP has seen a 70% increase in contacts since January 2020. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, they have received nearly 700 RPO related calls with over 30 of those being COVID-19 crisis related. To help handle the increase, a new dedicated phone line has been established specifically for New Jersey RPOs to receive additional support to assist their agency officers.
These virtual meetings are part of the Attorney General’s 21 County, 21st Century Community Policing Project, “21/21” for short. 21/21 was launched in 2018 as a way to promote stronger police-community relations by bringing together law enforcement and community stakeholders in every county for face-to-face town hall meetings, roundtable discussions and other outreach events. Because the need for such engagement is even more important right now as we are socially distanced and public gatherings are not possible, the Attorney General converted these community meetings to a virtual format. The sessions focus on important COVID-related topics and offer the public to have their questions or concerns addressed in real time.
Past sessions discussed services for victims and survivors, recovery and addiction resources, fraud schemes and law enforcement’s response to the pandemic, and future sessions will cover bias crimes and child safety. All sessions are recorded for our 21/21 Town Hall Archive