By Kenny Walter
LONG BRANCH–Community leaders and city residents braved the cold weather for the annual celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jason Roebuck, director of Public Safety, said during the Jan. 18 ceremony, which was held at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument Park, that police departments across the country should learn from recent acts of violence involving police officers.
“The recent violence against officers all across the nation, whether it is under the guise of protest or not, only adds to the problem,” Roebuck said.
Roebuck said while problems persist else where, in Long Branch, the police department makes it a priority to interact with the community.
“I think Long Branch can be an example to the rest of the country,” he said. “It’s been drilled into us from day one, we care locally, we stepped up our efforts.”
Roebuck said the effort include increasing police presence at schools and adding body cameras to officers.
He also said while it is important to be involved in the community, it is equally important to respond to when problems arise.
“The people all across the country in the inner city are the people who need us,” Roebuck said. “To have us not respond to those issues is an injustice.”
Catharine Darby, a member of the MLK Jr. Guild of Long Branch, said despite the blistering cold weather, those who attended the ceremony learned a lot.
“I think we all have a purpose for coming this morning and I’m glad you all came,” Darby said.
The annual ceremony is the closing event that is held by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Guild. The guild sponsors a week of events that includes a gospel night at Trinity AME Church, a soul-food dinner at the Portuguese Club, and a march from the memorial park to Second Baptist Church for a special Sunday service.