Hoboken forms task force to review police department's use of force policies

Police departments across the country are looking at their use of force policies in the wake of George Floyd’s death and nationwide protests against police brutality.
The Hoboken Police Department has had use of force guidelines in place for years. Chief Ken Ferrante says that he was upset to see the situation with Floyd unfold in Minneapolis.
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“It’s shocking to see some of the things that happened with law enforcement in other parts of the country, and then to find out it was in their policy to do some of those acts,” Ferrante says.
The chief says that Hoboken’s policing policies ban the use of chokeholds and require reporting of all police-involved complaints. Ferrante says that complaints in his department are low, thanks in part to regular training.
But because of recent events around the country, Hoboken had decided to form a task force to review the police department’s policies.
“This is one of those rare moments in our nation’s history where we have an opportunity to see what we’re doing now and what we’re doing better and that’s the purpose of this task force,” says Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
The task force will meet virtually for the first time on Thursday. It is made up of City Council members, Hoboken residents and current and retired police officers.
“My role will be to present the civilian perspective and the Black community,” says Housing Authority Commissioner Lavon Jason Smith.
Smith is a lifelong Hoboken resident. The Housing Authority serves 1,300 mostly minority families in Hoboken.
“As far as living the life of a Black person and being Black, things have to change. Again, despite no incidents of use of force here in Hoboken, there are things that can change,” says Smith.
The group will meet regularly and see community feedback. It will report its findings and recommendations in about 90 days.
Bhalla says that forming the task force is part of the “Obama Pledge” that he agreed to early this month. The former president asked mayors nationwide to commit to action when it comes to the use of police force.