Programs

Rebuilding Trust and Improving Safety in Paterson

Rebuilding Trust and Improving Safety in Paterson

Rebuilding Trust and Improving Safety in Paterson

Recognizing a crisis of confidence in the city’s law enforcement, Attorney General Platkin announced on March 27, 2023, that the Office of the Attorney General was superseding the Paterson Police Department (PPD) and assuming control of all police functions, including internal affairs investigations. “The primary duty of my office is protecting the people of New Jersey, that includes the safety of the people of the City of Paterson as well as the safety of the officers sworn to protect them,” Attorney General Platkin said as he announced his decision outside of the PPD headquarters. Attorney General Platkin stressed that his Office was committed to the safety and success of the Paterson community and to building a safer and more just city of Paterson.

Isa Abbassi, a 26-year veteran of the City of New York Police Department (NYPD), was named Officer in Charge of PPD, and under his leadership, the department has begun a critical transformation to rebuild trust between the department and the people it serves. Since the Attorney General’s Office took control, Paterson has seen significantly improved public safety results.

Making the community safer. Paterson experienced double-digit percentage declines in all violent crime reporting data categories in 2023. Murders were down 39% and the number of shooting victims were down 25% compared to 2022. The number of shootings was the lowest in more than a decade in the City of Paterson. Aggravated assaults, sexual violence, and robberies also showed significant declines.

Listening to the Paterson community. On May 4, 2023, Attorney General Platkin held a community listening session in the City of Paterson to discuss ways in which law enforcement, service providers, and community members could work together to improve the delivery of public safety services to individuals who have mental illness, those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and residents in a behavioral health crisis. Soon after taking command, Officer in Charge Abbassi held a series of six listening sessions around Paterson to allow residents to share their concerns, experiences, and suggestions as the department worked to restore crucial connections with residents in every neighborhood. The sessions were well-attended, and the input gathered was  incorporated in the department’s short-term and long-term goals. Listening sessions are also held periodically in the city as well as smaller roundtable discussions with officers.

Sharing community contacts. In December 2023, the PPD announced that they would begin carrying contact cards to hand out as they interact with community members throughout the city. The front of the contact card features the officer’s rank, full name, and badge number. The back features a QR code that when scanned takes the user to a Police Encounter Q and A page with commonly asked questions about police interactions. The page will also provide information on how to submit a complaint or a compliment regarding their interaction with a PPD officer.

Launching a successful summer crime and quality of life strategy. PPD’s Summer Crime and Quality of Life Strategy, in place between Memorial Day and Labor Day, led to a 41% decline in shooting incidents compared to the same period in 2022. Paterson also saw the lowest number of shooting victims for that time period in the last five years. The strategy increased police presence and communication with the community to increase overall safety in the city. Paterson also saw declines in other major violent crime categories in the period with robbery down over 39% and aggravated assault down 10%.

Rebuilding Trust and Improving Safety in Paterson

Revitalizing Paterson neighborhoods through the Broadway Initiative. The PPD’s Neighborhood Revitalization Concept, starting with the Broadway Initiative, has led to an increased police presence in the area resulting in a decrease in crime and an improvement in the quality of life for residents. PPD has partnered with state and city agencies to provide substance abuse referrals, homeless outreach, and infrastructure improvements. The concept has spread to other parts of the city, including Downtown and South Paterson. Overall, the initiative has led to an increase in quality of life and decrease in crime in the area.

Establishing a Strategic Plan. In September 2023, Attorney General Platkin and Officer in Charge Abbassi released a comprehensive Strategic Plan to move the agency forward into the next generation of policing. The plan was developed with feedback from the community, police department members, and community leaders. Guided by four main values, the plan aims to rebuild public trust, renew community policing, embrace innovation, and improve recruitment, training and employee wellbeing. The plan includes 55 initiatives and has a projected final report in the summer of 2025, with routine progress reports to keep the community informed.

Announcing ARRIVE Together in Paterson. In December 2023, Paterson became the first municipality in Passaic County to participate in ARRIVE Together. The program operates under several different models and is tailored to each community’s unique needs and resources. After input from law enforcement officials, mental health providers, and community leaders, Paterson’s pilot model is three-fold. First, PPD officers will refer individuals in need of mental health support to CBH Care. Second, New Jersey Transit Police and CBH Care will provide mental health resources at the Paterson Bus Terminal. Last, CBH Care will collaborate with emergency dispatchers in Paterson to develop a mental health alternative response program for appropriate calls coming through the 911 system.

Rebuilding Trust and Improving Safety in Paterson