Letter to the Community from
Chief Thomas Strumolo &
Commissioner Alphonse Petracco
Over the last several weeks since the tragic incident that took place in Minneapolis which led to the death of George Floyd, We’ve been speaking to many residents and citizens and answering many questions regarding what we do in the Nutley Police Department. We, along with all the officers of the Nutley Police Department, were angered and saddened by what took place in Minneapolis and will continue to work hard to provide the highest level of public safety in a fair and equitable manner.
We want to ensure all residents and citizens that the Nutley Police Department takes pride and is committed to treating all citizens with Integrity, Respect, Fairness and Service. These are our core values as expressed in our mission statement and all officers are committed to policing in a professional manner. In the Nutley Police Department, we strive to hire the best qualified people and provide continual training to ensure all our officers are properly trained in the best practices in policing. After being hired and completing initial training at the police academy, all officers enter into our field training program and are mentored by a trained a field training officer for a minimum of 8 weeks. It’s during this time that we instill these core values into our new officers and ensure they are sufficiently trained before releasing them from the program. From there, all officers of the department continue to receive mandatory in-service training throughout the year in areas of use of force, domestic violence, de-escalation tactics, bias incidents, first aid and other critical areas that require additional training. We take great pride in the training we provide our officers and have a full-time training unit that ensures all officers receive the latest training available.
The Nutley Police Department is accredited through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and has continued to meet these stringent requirements since first attaining accreditation status in 2011. As part of our accreditation standards, we are required to update our policy and procedures on a yearly basis to ensure that our officers are following the best practices in policing. As part of these standards, supervisors review all calls and incidents to ensure officers are complying with these policies. In addition, all use of force and critical incidents are reviewed by command staff to ensure compliance. We hold all of our officers to the highest standards and they are committed to treating all citizens in a professional and fair manner.
We, along with all the officers of the Nutley Police Department, have worked hard for many years building relationships throughout our community through many of the programs we offer to interact on a positive note with all residents. We will continue to build the trust from our residents by working together with them. Every officer in the department is committed to our community policing programs and these programs will continue to allow us to build relationships and trust with all citizens. One of the programs we offer at an early age for our children is the Junior Police Academy. Children ages 10-13 spend 5 days with officers learning what police officers do and interact with officers on a positive note learning how to make the right choices and decisions in life and learning to work as a team with the other children in the program. Feedback from the parents of the children who attended the academy have expressed that the experience helped their children develop relationships with officers so when they see them in public, they feel comfortable coming up and interacting with them. This program has been extremely well received with our residents. In addition, our officers teach the national LEAD program, which stands for Law Enforcement Against Drugs in all our elementary schools throughout the year. This curriculum allows officers to go into the schools and work with children for 10 weeks. The officers coach and mentor the students on making right choices in life and how to think about the choices they are faced with in addition to having the courage to make the right decision. Another program we began implementing several years ago is the PALS (Police at Lunch with Students) program where officers select a different school each month and bring pizza to have lunch with a group of children and interact with them on a positive note. All these programs have allowed us to build great relationships with the children in the community and we will continue to provide these types of positive programs.
In addition, the Nutley Police Department also offers events for adults including the nationwide initiative of Coffee with Cop. This program allows our officers to interact with citizens in a relaxed and less formal setting. Officers are encouraged to sit down with members of the community to discuss a wide variety of matters and concerns to answer questions, and to become better acquainted with the citizens who reside or visit our community. We also offer safety related training to citizens. In the Fall of 2019, we hosted a medical training course that instructed citizens on what to do in case of a medical emergency in their home or workplace. The Nutley Police Department has also been working to develop a Citizen’s Police Academy Program to provide citizens with an in-depth look at police work in their community. We are committed to continuing these programs and to remain engaged with these community policing events and programs.
The Nutley Police Department adheres to all NJ Attorney General Guidelines and Accreditation standards and restricts or requires the following:
- Chokeholds and strangleholds are banned, unless it is a deadly force situation.
- We require all officers to de-escalate situations whenever possible, by communicating with subjects and maintaining distance. Officers are provided specific ongoing training in this area.
- We require verbal warnings, when possible, prior to discharging a firearm.
- We require officers to exhaust all alternatives, when possible, before discharging a firearm.
- We require all officers to intervene and stop excessive force and report the incident to command staff. In addition officers must report any and all misconduct.
- Officers are not permitted to shoot at moving vehicles, unless it is a deadly force situation and no other option is available.
- We require adherence to a strict use of force continuum, and only use deadly force as a last resort.
- We require officers to document and report each time they use or threaten to use force. These incidents are reviewed by our command staff.
Once again, we would like everyone to know that the Nutley Police Department is dedicated to working with the public as partners in Public Safety. We will continue to work with all areas of society and government to provide this service. We are committed to the highest levels of professionalism and Public Safety for all persons, regardless of race, religion or creed. We will continue to work hard to expand our partnership with the public and always strive to improve the level of service that we provide on a day to day basis. We would also like to personally assure all citizens that no member of the Nutley Police Department will tolerate police misconduct of any kind including any kind of excessive force or any form of racial bias. In closing, we want to thank you for your support and to tell you that it is our distinct honor to serve as the Chief of Police and Commissioner of Public Safety for the Township of Nutley.