Joint Statement from Mendham Township Mayor Sarah Neibart and Police Chief Ross Johnson
Our country has been shaken by the death of George Floyd. In the wake of this tragedy, we condemn the indefensible actions by the police officers who took his life. The frustration and pain being expressed by so many is real and legitimate; and as we watch the ongoing events around the country, we wanted to take a moment to assure the residents of Mendham Township that the Township of Mendham and our police department take this issue very seriously.
Having one of the best trained and well-versed police departments in our county and state has been a high priority over the past few years. Our officers receive extensive training on topics of bias, cultural diversity, ethics, harassment, mental illness, racial profiling, substance abuse, and use of force, multiple times a year. In 2019, our police department attended over 1,300 hours of training alone. In addition to these trainings, the state of New Jersey has one of the most comprehensive law enforcement oversight systems in place starting on the local level and extending all the way up to the State Attorney General's Office. This includes in-depth reporting as well as an early warning system that tracks and monitors officers’ complaints and actions that is overseen by both our department’s command staff and the Prosecutor's Office. This system of checks and balances begins on the department level and includes tracking of complaints and investigations, motor vehicle and civilian contacts, video review, and regular review of patrol practices and arrests. Our residents expect the best of their police department - and the MTPD strives every day to deliver exactly that, keeping integrity, dedication and professionalism as well as resident safety as constant priorities.
New Jersey is a national leader on policing reform. This past December, the state launched its “Excellence in Policing” initiative, designed to reinforce the culture of professionalism, accountability, and transparency in police departments. The initiative is a national model for strengthening trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. Morris County has been focused on this initiative and has been proactively working to implement best practices throughout the county by partnering with municipalities including Mendham Township.
The implementation of these initiatives reflects a genuine commitment to building trust and creating a safer community where every person feels welcomed. As we continue to strive to make Mendham Township the kind of place where all people feel valued and want to put down roots, it is incumbent on all of us to engage in productive, meaningful, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations on issues of injustice. Together, we must continue to listen, educate ourselves, and implement any policy changes that are needed to create a stronger and safer community.