A letter signed by more than a dozen Asbury Park clergy members urges the City Council to create a Civilian Complaint Review Board and to allocate additional funding for “more holistic programs” in the community.
“We also collectively believe that there is no place for racism, classism, sexism, ableism, trans/homophobia, or any other forms of discrimination within any government organization including our police department,” the letter said. “We believe that to seek justice a city first needs to create a process that demands accountability from all who commit oppressive acts. We are urging the City of Asbury Park to install a Civilian Complaint Review Board to keep our local police department accountable to the community it serves.”
Mayor John Moor said the city’s Equity Committee is meeting weekly to discuss police matters, and has said they would need between 90 to 120 days before reporting on their findings.
“We have not firmly planted our feet behind any of these initiatives and we are still meeting and talking with the community and among ourselves,” Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said. “ We will present recommendations to the public and the council in the upcoming months.”
The clergy believe a civilian board would keep the police department accountable to the community it serves in a long-term day to day manner.
“We believe that the CCRB should have a moral backbone to be effective and keep our community safe,” the letter said. “ This board should have the power to subpoena officers for unjust behavior and the power to dismiss officers with excessive complaints of force. It makes sense to us that if the police are supposed to serve us, that we should also be able to participate in how they serve us.
“We are also writing because we are concerned that 22 percent of the city’s budget goes to the
police force, while only $100,000 goes to social services. This needs to change. It is proven that a city that has more mental health services, social workers, healthcare, adequate housing, and better schools is what truly creates safer cities for all its community members. We are requesting is that there be a reallocation of money from the police towards more holistic programs in our community.”
Mayor John Moor disputed the group’s numbers saying the social services budget is over $600,000, including salaries for four full-time and one part time employee, who works four days a week.
“We will review the numbers, but the city pays more than $100,000 just based on staffing,” he said adding that the city has always funded social services even above what was requested.
“Maybe the problem is with the head of social services; they should ask for more,” he said.