Paterson Police Department Holds Public Safety Summit with Key Stakeholders
For Immediate Release: February 8, 2024
Paterson Police Department
– Isa M. Abbassi, Officer-in-Charge
PATERSON — The Paterson Police Department today announced that during a two-part Public Safety Summit, which included meetings with law enforcement, political and community leaders at the municipal, county, and state levels, Officer in Charge Isa M. Abbassi revealed critical strategies for 2024 to further reduce violent crime in the city of Paterson and expand efforts for community engagement and police accountability.
Both portions of the Summit were held on Monday, February 5, with the first part including law enforcement and elected leaders for a detailed briefing on public safety goals. Personnel from the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, including Prosecutor Camelia Valdes, and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, including Undersheriff Nart Hapatsha, attended the meeting alongside Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, Corporation Counsel Aymen Aboushi, and members of the Paterson City Council.
During the law enforcement portion of the Safety Summit, Officer in Charge Abbassi announced a dedicated Nightlife Task Force which, commencing in the spring of 2024, will specifically target illegal nightclubs and after-hours establishments in Paterson. These establishments are hotbeds for illegal alcohol sales, violent crime, drug and human trafficking, and gambling. Nearly one in five shootings in 2023 in the city of Paterson had a nexus to unlawful nightlife activity. This Task Force is charged with ensuring a coordinated effort to close down these nightclubs that operate unlawfully across the city and contribute to driving violent crime and quality of life issues within Paterson. Working with legislators, community stakeholders, and law enforcement partners, the Task Force, including the PPD and ABC, will adopt a zero-tolerance focus on the proprietors of these illegal establishments and the property owners who knowingly permit them to operate to maximize both civil and criminal sanctions and drive illegal nightclubs out of Paterson permanently. Additionally, the Task Force will focus on other quality of life issues that surround illegal nightclubs, including noise complaints, disorderly conduct, and unsafe double parking.
“The people of this city deserve to feel safe in their neighborhoods and enjoy a peaceful, quiet night without the worries of whatever may spill out of the illegal nightclubs that have plagued this city for far too long,” said Officer in Charge Abbassi. “We are moving forward in 2024 by building on the successes of 2023 and bringing some radical changes to this police department and the strategies we use to provide police services. We look forward to working with our partners at the state, county and local levels to make Paterson a safer place.”
The second part of the summit, held at the Paterson Free Public Library Main Branch, included community partners and advisers to discuss the importance of expanding PPD’s efforts around police accountability, transparency, and community policing. During that meeting, Officer in Charge Abbassi announced strategic goals that focus on accountability, transparency, and significant collaboration with the community. One of the first steps in that direction includes the creation of a Community Liaison position within the Paterson Police Department. Community activist Theodore “Teddie” Martinez is the first person to hold that title, and will work directly in neighborhoods to identify at-risk youth and offer meaningful referrals and interventions to prevent youth violence and offer alternatives to behaviors that result in criminal justice system involvement. Through a program known as “Street Meets”, Martinez along with community leaders and law enforcement will meet with at-risk youth where they are, on the streets and other locations in the city where there may be potential for violence or retaliation.
Community spaces in underserved parts of the city will be identified with the long-term goal of activating these spaces to give young residents a safe place to be off the streets and an outlet. These places in conjunction with outreach and mentoring programs in place through PPD’s Community Partnerships Bureau will allow the department to prevent future crime by giving at-risk youth meaningful alternatives.
“An important goal in 2024 is to bring the Paterson Police Department closer to the community,” said Officer in Charge Abbassi. “By engaging kids, especially those who may be going down the wrong path, we are making communities safer and fostering productive relationships that will last for years to come, giving us more credibility on the streets in our mission to create a safe Paterson.”