BHDC & BHPD Hosted a Productive Listening Session in October. Promise More Open Dialogue To Come
Thank you for all who joined the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council and the Berkeley Heights Police Department for our second Community Listening Session on October 14. As many of you shared that night, we agree that it was a great opportunity for open community dialogue. We strongly believe that continuing to offer open and welcoming dialogue about tough topics will be critical to creating a more open and welcoming community in Berkeley Heights.
We are grateful for the robust attendance that included the Chief of Police John DiPasquale, Sergeant Ed Gaffney and Lieutenant Jason Massimino from the BHPD, the President of the Board of Ed, members of Town Council and so many residents. We are thrilled with the turnout and grateful for the honest and very informative discussion.
The Listening Session started with an update from the BHPD about a program they are planning with a goal to increase hands-on community interaction and information sharing. The program will offer residents a first-hand look at the BHPD by providing a “peek” into what they do and an opportunity to ask questions.
The BHPD offered some follow-up, responding to questions asked by residents at the first Listening session in July and then opened up the “floor” for residents to ask questions and raise issues for discussion.
Those questions resulted in interesting, insightful and thought-provoking discussion. Some topics covered included: BHPD training (including bias training), hiring practices and efforts to continue to encourage diversity of the department, statistics around traffic stops in town and more history and detail about the difference between the long-standing School Resource Officer program and the relatively newer Class 3 Officer program.
The BHDC encourages residents to continue to brainstorm about other ways to continue to encourage this ongoing open and honest dialogue. We invite you to join the BHDC and the BHPD at the next Listening Session which we expect to host in late January. We are committed to continuing these sessions as well as offering other new and different ways to continue to increase dialogue and open lines of communication. In the future we hope to bring back the “Coffee with a Cop” program as well implement new ideas.
If you have questions about this Listening Session, about the BHDC/BHPD Partnership or have other ideas or suggestions for the BHDC, please email the BHDC Executive Board (BHDiversity@gmail.com).
The Berkeley Heights Diversity Council was founded to honor and embrace the diverse cultures and perspectives within Berkeley Heights. Our goal is to spread awareness and foster inclusion.
Originally Published in TAPinto Berkeley Heights on November 16, 2020