JERSEY CITY - The Jersey City Police Department is trying out a program to help improve public safety and community relations in the city.
The department now has 32 new officers patrolling some of Jersey City's toughest streets on foot, to make it easier for them to get to know the people they are sworn to protect.
"They feel comfortable talking to you," says Officer Denzel Suitt. "It is showing them we have personalities too and we were just like them at one point and still are."
Each new patrol officer has been paired with a veteran partner. Officer Suitt's partner is Officer Ryan Macaluso. Officer Macaluso also feels getting to know the community is beneficial to police work.
"If you had positive interactions in the past with citizens, they are more likely to be open and welcome to speak with you," he says.
Jersey City police officials hope that having more officers patrolling the streets on foot will not only reduce crime, but also help those officers better understand the residents and the issues they face.
The new officers were assigned posts in both the South and West districts of Jersey City. Since July 2013, 122 new officers have been hired. About 55 more are expected to join the force in the next year.