NEWARK - Police in New Jersey's largest city will be more vigilant during protests planned through the weekend after five police officers were killed in Dallas.
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said at a news conference Friday that police will make sure protesters are able to exercise their First Amendment rights. But he says that police will make sure security is in place in case of any copycats.
"We want to make sure that we do this in a way that in meaningful, respectful and peaceful,” says Mayor Ras Baraka.
Baraka called the person who shot the officers in Dallas "a sick individual."
There are protests planned in Newark against recent fatal shootings of black men by police. Hundreds marched in a peaceful protest on Thursday.
Ambrose says police will only disrupt protesters if they damage property or injure people, something that hasn't happened in recent protests in the city.
“We have to worry about copycats. So if we didn't worry about it before, we didn't worry about it yesterday, at this time we have to worry about it now,” Ambrose says.
Although the department has not received any threats, police will be traveling in pairs in police cars from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. They will also resume ride-alongs with members of Newark’s clergy. Chaplains will be on hand to diffuse potentially violent situations. It’s a strategy that has been used on and off since the 1980s.
Bishop Jethro James helped to organize the strategy.
“If you see something that's wrong, we have direct access to the mayor and to the public safety director,” he says.
The mayor and public safety director say that they are positive the protests in Newark Friday will be peaceful. They point to a decades-long history of activism in Newark with very few incidents.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.