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East Orange Mayor Issues Statement on New Use-of-Force Rules for Federal Law Enforcement

East Orange

The following is a statement from East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green:

"On Wednesday, May 25, 2022 – which marks the second anniversary of the heinous death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer – President Joseph Biden will sign an executive order requiring new use-of-force rules for federal law enforcement while encouraging local police departments to adopt or revise similar changes. 

The new federal minimum standard will allow force "only when no reasonably effective, safe and feasible alternative appears to exist." 

Will this measure hold law enforcement agencies more accountable and possibly reduce the incidences of unjustifiable homicides at the hand of police officers? Of course, it will. 

Will it overturn hundreds of years of systemic racism, abuse and trauma imposed on Black and Brown Americans? Of course, it won't. But it's a good start. 

In response to the brutal killing of George Floyd on that fateful day two years ago, our East Orange Police Division proactively assessed and revised our own departmental policy regarding use-of-force. 

And even though East Orange is setting its own standard with the lowest level of police misconduct investigations in the State of New Jersey, I, along with the men and women of our EOPD, are making sure that our police officers are equipped with the physical, mental and emotional capabilities to de-escalate situations BEFORE they get out of control.   

Shooting first and asking questions later should NEVER be an officer's first move. Humanity implores us to do better.  

Our EOPD officers are leading the nation in representation, with an overwhelming 85% of the force reflecting the community it serves. Does this make a difference? Absolutely. 

In fact, several years ago, two of our officers who were fired upon by a fleeing suspect were able to safely apprehend and arrest the individual without firing their weapons once. Not once. Why? Because Black Lives Matter in the City of East Orange. 

Black lives make up the majority of our community – they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. They are deserving of the same restraint, compassion and empathy that is given toward every person in our city– regardless of race or socioeconomic background. 

Our mantra is that East Orange is one city, one community, with one goal, and that goal equals progress. 

Progress cannot happen until everyone receives equal and just treatment under both the spirit and the letter of the law.  

While this federal reform measure is a good first step, it cannot be the only one that will reverse years of para-military police tactics and the use of excessive force that has plagued minority communities for centuries. 

Law enforcement agencies across America must take a deep inward look and confront the implicit bias that causes these cases to exist. 

Then, and only then, can we begin to confront our criminal justice system and the impact it has had on generations of disenfranchised Americans.  

Until we unite as one committed to social justice and equity for everyone, we will never heal as a nation. 

The movement toward a true democracy lies not within the ranks of our highest level of government but within all of us. Humanity starts at home, and East Orange is part of the solution.  

On this day and every day thereafter, I challenge every police department across this great union to step up and do what's right  – to live up to the ideals established by our forefathers in the Constitution of the United States. That, my friends, is progress."