Paterson PD works to regain public’s trust, but activists remain skeptical

As Mayor Andre Sayegh says he is committed to ensuring the public’s trust in the department, community activists say that they are still waiting to see concrete changes.

Matt Trapani

Apr 14, 2023, 12:00 AM

Updated 468 days ago

Share:

It has been nearly three weeks since state Attorney General Matt Platkin announced a takeover of the Paterson Police Department.
As Mayor Andre Sayegh says he is committed to ensuring the public’s trust in the department, community activists say that they are still waiting to see concrete changes.
“We want respect. We want to be treated fairly. We don’t want to be hunted down, which is honestly sometimes what it feels like,” says Bre Azanedo, of Black Lives Matter Paterson.
Azanedo says that she was hoping to see immediate changes out on the streets of Paterson after the Attorney General’s Office announced the takeover.
“I was a little bit more hopeful. I thought the people they would bring in would be a little bit more representative of us as a community,” she says.
Most changes have been inside the police department. The chief is no longer in charge, and a Paterson police captain is now the highest-ranking officer, serving as chief of staff to the man in charge - State Police Major Frederick Fife.
“If they do bring us the resources, then we welcome them with open arms, because we want to improve,” Sayegh says.
Platkin announced the takeover at Paterson Police Headquarters just over two weeks ago. The mayor said the first he found out about it was a phone call from the attorney general earlier that day.
“What was said was that there’s assistance that needs to be given and we’ll take that assistance,” Sayegh says. “As long as it means we’re improving the way we protect and serve our public.”
But Azanedo says that the community can take care of its own.
“This is our community. And if no one else is taking care of it, we’re going to take care of it ourselves,” she says.
Black Lives Matter activists will open a so-called Harm Reduction Center on Saturday. It will provide shelter, food and drug treatment options to the community. Police officers are not welcome.
“We cannot work with the same officers that abuse them…that throw away the little bit they have,” Azanedo says. “I will never take a look at our community members more than the officers because they’re the ones who are paid to serve and protect the community.”
The mayor says he will do everything in his power to improve the trust between police and the community.
“This is going to require 100% commitment on our part, and we are 100% committed to restoring the trust between police and the public,” he says.
Sayegh says he wants to hire at least 40 more police officers for the department.


More from News 12