Newark Police Adopt-A-Block Program Builds Trust with Residents

The Newark Department of Public Safety has implemented its Adopt-A-Block program, an initiative that is part of the department’s ongoing efforts to foster positive community relations with residents.

The program, which runs through August 24, calls on all components of the Department of Public Safety to fan out into the neighborhood with the Fire Division and city agencies to meet residents.

At each location within the department’s seven precincts, several streets will be closed off over the next seven weeks on a rotating basis from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

During those hours, residents can mingle with the department, get tested for COVID-19 and receive a face mask if they don’t have one.

“One of the highest priorities for our administration has been to directly connect our residents with our city agencies and our team of dedicated professionals,” Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “The Adopt-A-Block Program will do that, bringing police officers, firefighters, and representatives from city agencies to hear their concerns and issues about services they may need, and explain how these can be delivered."

City agencies will also be there to offer referrals for social services and encourage residents to fill out the 2020 Census. Members of the Community Affairs/Clergy Unit will be on deck to interact with the public.

The department’s Hope One Newark program will be available with a peer recovery specialist to steer people toward drug treatment programs. Community leaders and clergy members with the department’s Ambassadors program are part of that effort, too.

“This initiative was conceived in an effort to further promote and build community partnerships, develop meaningful community engagements, promote collaborative problem-solving in order to increase confidence in our efforts of strengthening our relationship with the community,’’ Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said.

The program works and it paid dividends on its first day, July 27. Seven-year-old Bella Davis was with her grandfather, Latif Sultan, a Newark resident who said she wanted to meet the officers they saw on horseback at South 6th Street between Fourteenth and Fifteenth avenues.

“Our children have to understand that the people who wear the uniform are our friends,’’ Sultan said. “I don’t want them to be afraid.’’

His granddaughter wasn’t. She posed for a picture with Latoya Young, a community service officer with the First Precinct and police officers Alex Haralam and Antwon Miles, who are assigned to the mounted unit with horses “Black Jack” and “Chief.’’

They were a hit on the block, attracting several kids who talked to the officers and petted the animals, marveling at their size and friendly nature.

So, look for the department and city agencies in your neighborhood. They’re easy to spot and a welcomed site for residents like Carolyn Evans.

“I love it,’’ Evans said. “As a community, we need to get together.’’