On Saturday, May 14, Police Chief Robert Weck worked with the congregation at Fountain Baptist Church to facilitate a group dialogue on police interactions with African American youth. During the discussion, hosted by the Fountain Baptist’s Boy’s Right of Passage Ministry led by Minister Rodney Williams with the assistance of Rev. Vernon Williams, Chief Weck spoke to the young men about the importance of communication and mutual respect while interacting with law enforcement to ensure positive and constructive encounters.
In addition to the discussion, Chief Weck and Officer Matt Tarentino from the Department’s Community Policing Unit also demonstrated simulated motor vehicle stops. These simulated traffic stops helped to highlight what citizens should expect while being stopped by law enforcement, and to demonstrate the high level of professional training standards expected from the Summit Police Department’s officers.
“The Summit Police Department is dedicated to working with the members of the community and their leaders to create dynamic partnerships that help make our City a safe and enjoyable place to live, work, and play,” said Chief Weck. “I am proud of our partnership with Fountain Baptist Church and grateful to Minister Williams for the opportunity to build relationships with the young members of their congregation, while also showcasing the professional standards of our Department and our officers.”
At the close of the presentation, Chief Weck fielded questions from the attendees and held a panel discussion which addressed the continuing initiatives being undertaken by Summit PD and the law enforcement community to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between law enforcement and the public.
“In this day and age of much-publicized conflict between law enforcement and the black community, we can't underestimate the importance of mutual respect where both parties know what is required from each other,” said Minister Rodney Williams. “While much counsel is given to us around how we should interact with the police, Chief Weck and Officer Tarentino provided a thorough look at the level of professionalism and decorum that we should expect in our interactions with officers and how to address anything less than that. We're grateful for their open and willing dialog and we look forward to continuing to develop a model relationship between us. We're also thankful that Plainfield Police Lt. Ken Reid (ret.) joined us to offer additional perspective.”
For more information on the Department’s community outreach initiatives or to schedule a presentation, please contact the Summit Police Department’s Community Policing Unit at 908-598-2170 or via the City website at www.cityofsummit.org. You can also stay up to date with all that is happening by following the Department on Facebook /summitpd or on Instagram @summit_pd.