By JENNIFER AMATO
NORTH BRUNSWICK — A group of leaders in town have joined together to form an organization dedicated to protecting all members of the community.
Township officials, the North Brunswick Police Department and members of the New Destiny Family Worship Center recently met to form “Building Bridges,” a group committed to fostering better community relations between police and community members.
Bishop Calvin Enlow of New Destiny approached Police Director Kenneth McCormick in late July, feeling an “obligation” to take action.
“This came about in light of all of the events transpiring in our country,” Enlow said. “We needed to do something and partner with the police department … to create high visibility that our township is not like that.”
“We’ve decided to do this because on a more global perspective, we see what is going on with law enforcement and the feeling of distress globally,” McCormick said, noting that Enlow has always been a “great partner” to push out the message of community involvement.
Enlow said overall, the community at large has not had any major problems with police officers, but that sometimes complications may arise.
“We want to create positive stories and positive events that will create positivity,” he said.
Therefore, on July 21 and 22, group members decided on a backpack collection and distribution before the beginning of the school year, an Adopt-a-Cop program where officers would visit elementary school classrooms, a Youth Max program to help young people navigate the problems they face, discussions at local minority businesses to open up communication and distributing pertinent information at township events such as Heritage Day.
“I think, probably in a lot of communities, is the fact that they’re not proactive in trying to build community relationships. If we do that and something does happen, it’s something to reflect on and we can say it’s not an issue involving racism. I think it’s important for a community to be able to do that,” Enlow said. “It’s an opportunity to show we are concerned with building bridges.”
“I think we have to build these relationships in advance,” McCormick agreed. “We can’t wait until something happens and then we ask for relationships and partnerships. … When you build in advance — God forbid something happens — we can reach out to people who’ve been supportive.”
In collaboration with Building Bridges, a Human Relations Committee representative of the township will be established to promote diversity in town.
“We live in a day in which it is more important than ever that there be two-way conversation and understanding between the police and the people they protect. Every single resident should absolutely feel that the police are there for them and the police should indeed serve and protect all residents equally. This is a program that will help our residents and our officers get to know each other, understand their needs and expectations, and ultimately increase mutual respect,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said.
There will also be a service open to the entire community at 11 a.m. Sept. 11 at New Destiny, 1330 Livingston Ave., North Brunswick, to begin the Building Bridges campaign.
“I’m praying and hoping and believing that this will be something to bring police together with young men and young women,” Enlow said. “I’m hoping and praying this will grow and ease a lot of tension.”
To make a donation to the backpack program, contact Tracy Neal at 732-246-8850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.