In the wake of the tragic and senseless killings of Black men and police officers in Baton Rouge, suburban St. Paul, and Dallas, I’ve been reflecting along with many of you on what we as a community can do at the local level. The horrific headlines have brought the problems of gun violence, police accountability, and systemic inequality based on racism to the fore, but these problems are not new. As a community, we’ve been actively working to address them, and I’m interested in hearing your ideas about how we can work together to make our town more equitable and just.
Some of the measures we’ve already instituted include the following:
- As a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety, we’ve advocated for sensible gun control, and joined with others in using the purchasing power of our police department to pressure gun manufacturers to adopt stricter safety measures.
- Working together with many longtime residents, Princeton Council voted to make the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood our town's 20th historic district. The Wise Report, a document which led to historic designation status, narrates the poisonous history of slavery, segregation, and forced relocation of African American families, as well as their legacy of exceptional perseverance.
- The Princeton Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Sutter, has taken steps to emphasize community policing, train officers in de-escalation, increase openness and transparency, and diversify our force. The Chief produces monthly and annualpolice reports, including stats on diversity within the force, and the racial breakdown of traffic stops. We are currently working with the Rutgers University Police Institute to analyze and benchmark traffic and pedestrian stop data in order to work to ensure bias-free policing.
- The Council is working with the PrincetonHuman Services Commission to create a Civil Rights Commission. Among other responsibilities, the Commission will coordinate with local groups such as the YWCA and Not In Our Town to engage the community on issues surrounding race.
- Tomorrow night (Wednesday, 7/27) at 7pmat John Witherspoon Middle School, the town, school district, and religious community are jointly sponsoring a forumin response to the tragedies of recent police shootings of black men and sniper attacks on police. The event seeks to build bridges of empathy and help move us towards reconciliation. All are welcome.
We still have work to do in striving to become a more just, tolerant community. I look forward to hearing your ideas. Feel free to email me or visit during my monthly Meet the Mayor open office hours this Friday, July 29 from 8:30-10am in the lobby of the Princeton Public Library.