On February 8, New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino shared his perspective on policing with students, faculty, and community members, who had gathered in Stokes Auditorium to hear his keynote address. The talk was part of a three-part series hosted by the College’s Community Conversations and Actionable Solutions (CCAS) initiative, which brings in speakers to discuss policing.
During the talk, Porrino described his role in the Attorney General’s office, and how he has entered the conversation about policing.
“The very nature of my position requires me to have a balanced and fair view of law enforcement and its relationship with the community,” he said.
Porrino discussed the “deep gap in trust” that exists between police and the people they serve, and described some of the ways that New Jersey has tried to restore this trust. He outlined about eight different strategies that the state has implemented – which he said others may replicate – to start bridging the “gap in trust.” These included measures that can be taken before, during, and after police encounters: building community programs that bring police officers and people together, equipping police officers with body cameras, and improving the legal structures that handle cases of police force.
“My view is that the only way to really achieve lasting reform is through education and training,” Porrino said.
Following the talk, Porrino also took questions from the audience.
“Overall, the student feedback for the event was actually quite mixed,” wrote Nathan Sokolic ’19, who helped organize the event, via email. “Students came with strong fiery questions around policing issues, articulating themselves in a passionate but respectful manner. Whether or not students completely agreed with Attorney General Porino’s political viewpoints, it was without a doubt an informative session around some of the efforts being done in addressing this critical issue.”
CCAS hosted Shaun King in the fall, and is organizing a panel for the spring, which will include Reggie Shuford, the Executive Director of the ACLU-PA, and Tamika Mallory, one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington.
“This problem, and its solution, I really do believe belongs to all of us,” said Porrino. “It’s ours to fix. But it takes both sides – law enforcement and their communities – working together, trying to figure it out.”