New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin announced Monday that his office had taken control of the Paterson Police Department.
“Earlier this morning. I exercised my authority as Attorney General and superseded the Paterson Police Department,” Platkin said at a press conference. “Effective immediately, my office has assumed control of all law enforcement functions of the Paterson Police Department.”
Platkin tapped Isa Abbassi, current Chief of Strategic Initiatives for the New York Police Department, to become Paterson Police’s Officer-In-Charge starting in May.
The changes come days after the release of police body-camera footage showing the death of Najee Seabrooks, a local activist who was in mental distress when cops killed him, and as public pleas for police reform have intensified in Silk City.
“Due to a number of events and concerns involving the Paterson Police Department. There is a crisis of confidence in law enforcement in this city. And under these circumstances, I cannot deliver on my duty to protect the people of Paterson and to keep officers safe who are sworn to protect them. That cannot continue,” Platkin said.
Governor Murphy voiced support for the takeover Monday afternoon.
“In Paterson, it has unfortunately become clear that there is a deep lack of trust between the police and the community they serve. This not only harms public safety but it also makes it more difficult and dangerous for law enforcement officers to do their jobs. I am confident that the Attorney General’s actions will ensure needed reform and give police officers in Paterson the resources, support, and training they need to effectively build trust and serve their community,” Murphy said.
ARRIVE Together, a program that pairs mental health professionals with cops in plainclothes will soon expand to Paterson, Platkin also announced.
Advocacy groups have called on the state to do more.
“Paterson must be compelled to invest in a non-carceral crisis response team made-up of fully funded and trained community members, and there needs to be change at the highest levels of law enforcement in Passaic County. By taking over the Paterson police, the Attorney General is acknowledging there have been transgressions and that harm has been committed,” The New Jersey Violence Intervention and Prevention Coalition said in a statement. “We also ask for full transparency from the AG around his office’s mental health task force and an accounting of their reports and activities.”
New Jersey State Police Major Fred Fife will serve as interim Officer-In-Charge until Abbassi assumes the role.
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