Dear Editor,

After the recent horrifyingly jingoistic and tone deaf pro-police rally held at a Middletown High School South (Monmouth County) football game, conducted for the purpose of sending a chillingly threatening and racist message in opposition of NFL football players exercising free speech rights to protest police misconduct by refusing to stand for the Star-Spangled banner (due to the song's racist history), it is clear our current system of policing is broken beyond repair.

New Jersey (called Lenapehoking by the Lenape people) should work to create a new style of policing: Culturally-aware Civilian Representative Policing or CCRP.

Under my concept, New Jersey would create a single state-wide police force with five main divisions: traffic safety, crime reduction, ombudsman, community relations, and victim support. The demographics of officers hired (i.e. race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) would be required to be consistent with the demographics of the state.

The new agency would be called the Nutiket Witschindin, the Lenape words for watchperson and one who assists, embracing our state's native cultural heritage and a community caretaker role. Officers would be given the title of Witawematpanni, the Lenape word for Assistant. Most would not carry a gun.

In order to fight corruption, officers would be regularly relocated to different local areas and conduct operations with officers they never previously met. This would remove the cozy relationship that bolsters the blue wall of silence, which can be compared only with the Italian mafia concept of "omerta".

Gone would be the days of the gas guzzling Ford Crown Victoria as the standard patrol vehicle (Ford Motor Company used forced slave labor in Nazi Germany).  Horse, Segway, Smart Car, or Toyota Prius would be the new Eco-friendly standard method of police movement, with prisoner transport vans available on-call.

Social workers and psychologists would also be given hiring preference and put into management roles, to help reduce crime and build stronger communities. Assistance to people would be prioritized above arrests made. Civil rights and social justice organizations, like the NAACP, ACLU, Garden State Equality, and the American Friends Service Committee, as well as a committee made up of representatives from a variety of communities of faith and labor unions who do not represent police officers would be in charge of oversight and have the power to hire or fire management.

PBA and FOP union member cards given to friends and family of police officers as a "get out-of-jail free card" would be considered illegally bribery of a public official and corruption. Display of union shields in a window of a car would be considered impersonation of a police officer, and require the car be impounded.

Persons found to be using hard drugs or engaging in street prostitution would not face a criminal arrest, but could be invited to the station to meet with a social worker who would offer an addiction assessment, rehabilitation referrals, a hot meal, clean needles, a shower, clean clothes, rapid HIV/AIDS testing and condoms.

Police salaries would be limited to the average median income in the state, and the broken police disability system would be scrapped, to prevent abuses. Any items seized as proceeds of crime would be required to be donated to charity, instead of being added to departmental budgets.

Our current system of unfair policing has failed poor, minority, and even middle class communities. Because of this, myself and many other people do not view them as having any legitimacy and thus refuse to cooperate with them, as well as actively resist their presence. The police act as a militarized force, occupying our communities without consent of the governed, and the taxpayer is spending a hefty sum to keep them on payroll.

Native American tribal organizations (the few who managed to avoid genocide or exile), which are currently struggling economically and lacking appropriate recognition, should be hired to provide native healing and rehabilitation services to incarcerated persons, and teach Lenape language as well as culture to inmates. Bringing peyote ceremonies into prisons could help reduce recidivism and addiction through shamanism.

As a minister of religion, I have provided spiritual counseling to many harmed by police abuse and misconduct. People are scared and unhappy with the status quo. We need these radical changes I have proposed to make policing equitable, effective, accountable, and respectable in the Garden State.


Eric Hafner
Toms River, NJ