Cranford initiates community policing unit with veteran pair

Patrolman John Rattigan speaks to Cranford residents at last year’s National Night Out about the police department’s conductive energy devices, or CEDs. CEDs, such as a Taser, that assist officers in getting hostile or noncompliant suspects to comply.

CRANFORD, NJ — Two officers are spending time away from their daily patrol routines to interact with residents through the new community policing unit geared toward strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
The unit was introduced by police Chief Ryan Greco during his swearing-in ceremony in October.

“Through identifying problem-solving initiatives that work to reduce crime and empower residents, our community works to study and solve problems together,” Greco said in a Feb. 12 press release.

The new unit is available seven days a week and is to be operated by veteran officers John Rattigan and Robert Jordan.
“Both patrolmen Jordan and Rattigan are experienced, well-rounded officers who have a thumb on the pulse of law enforcement trends and our community needs,” Greco said in the release.

Lt. Edward Davenport also spoke to the character of the officers in a Feb. 13 phone interview, saying, “They are outgoing officers that will interact with the community, hear concerns, and channel the concerns to the right department.”

The officers are to gather information about resident concerns in informal settings and address matters that may have gone unanswered and unreported.

The information that may have not surfaced previously will now be brought to the attention of township departments, according to the release.
Currently, the officers are working to implement “Coffee with a Cop,” a program that already takes place across the United States and throughout New Jersey. Linden held its second annual “Coffee with a Cop” in October.

The first Cranford “Coffee with a Cop” event will be held Feb. 27, from 9 to 11 a.m., at Mr. J’s Deli at 15 Walnut Ave.
“The ‘Coffee with a Cop’ program will allow for residents to meet with the Community Policing Officers and other members of the department to discuss any community concerns, ask questions, and get to know members of our department,” the press release said.

In addition to the coffee sit down, Rattigan and Jordan plan to give several demonstrations on a variety of topics.
“The unit will organize presentations on current drug trends and discussion panels,” Davenport said.

Rattigan and Jordan also will look to hear from and connect with community organizations and business owners.
“Some initiatives involve performing public outreach with local community groups, security surveys, targeted patrols, quality-of-life matters and hearing concerns from the public in a non-emergent means,” according to the press release.

With its emphasis on public interaction, the initiative harkens to a traditional form of policing, according to the Bill Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

“It’s really a throwback to earlier ways of policing,” Johnson told LocalSource in a Feb. 16 phone interview. “There is recognition in getting out of the car and walking on the streets.”

NAPO has been a strong supporter of community policing programs since the idea was initiated during the 1980s, and it is successful in communities that have the policing services committed to the concept, he said.

“It helps break and prevent artificial walls from being erected in the first place,” Johnson said. Through community policing, “men and women in the community recognize each other as human beings,” rather than “boxing each other into categories of race, socioeconomic class.”