In the ever-increasing speed of the world around us, driven by technology and information sharing, we in Middlesex are fortunate enough to still enjoy the small town feel of our community. It is because of our connection to the community that I am taking this opportunity to address an incident of national attention that occurred 1,100 miles away in Memphis. A criminal investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols is active and ongoing, and five officers of the Memphis Police Department have been criminally charged for their involvement.
Our police department has made significant strides at every level from recruiting and training, to enhancing our transparency and accountability with the community we serve. Our daily operations are all functions of our core values of integrity, professionalism, and respect. These are intrinsic values for our officers and staff and are at the heart of how we are called to serve. There is no tolerance for anything less than the highest values and traditions of our police department, and each and every officer of the Middlesex Borough Police Department is held to these standards.
Built upon these values, our officers are equipped with training and technology to enhance their abilities to address the needs of our community and continually bolster the public trust. Our department attended over 500 hours of training in two, nationally recognized programs titled Integrating Communications Assessment and Tactics (ICAT), which focuses on key tools, skills, and options used for de-escalation; and Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project, which supports our department values of building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm. With the support of our Mayor and Council, we have invested in SafeFleet body worn cameras for all of our sworn law enforcement officers. This new equipment and training ensures that Middlesex Borough Police Department officers have the resources needed to handle evolving situations.
The policy of the Middlesex Borough Police Department mandates review of our officers’ body worn camera footage to be used as a training tool and to ensure the high standards of our department. These meaningful reviews are completed on three levels of increasing oversight and scrutiny for any situations where our officers have no choice but to use some level of force to overcome resistance and protect life and property of those we serve. Last year we handled 25,557 calls for service. During eight of these calls, our officers used force to intervene in mental health crises and an act of domestic violence.
Despite this making up 0.00031% of our responses, each use of force employed was carefully investigated and found that our officers are meeting or exceeding the values and standards of the police department and the guidelines of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
While I may not have answers for the incident that took place by law enforcement in Memphis, my officers, my command staff, and I assure our community that we continue to hold ourselves as community servants, bringing peace and good order, and we strive to be worthy of the public trust. For information about our police department, I encourage you to visit our webpage at https://www.middlesexpd.com or to contact me at 732-356-1900 ext. 324.
Matthew P. Geist
Chief of Police