Police/Community Dialogue on Immigrant Issues
Contact: Chia-Chia Wang, 973-854-0402
American Friends Service Committee
[Plainfield, NJ, October 27, 2010] -- On Saturday October 23rd, one hundred immigrant community members attended a public meeting with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the Plainfield Police Division to strengthen relationships and create understanding amongst immigrants about their rights and responsibilities as residents of Plainfield. The meeting came about after a series of conversations between local community leaders and law enforcement agencies regarding challenges faced by immigrants in reporting crimes and communicating with police.
The message throughout the presentations was the need for community members and the police to work together in support of a commitment to public safety. Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow shared his personal immigration history from Ukraine, and stated “The best thing about this country is that everyone has equal rights regardless of where they come from.” Chia-Chia Wang, Civic Participation Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee said, “We are encouraged to see the turnout and the high level of engagement by all participants. This is just the first step to increase trust between the police and the immigrant community. We have more work ahead.” Some audience members shared their concerns that reporting crime would result in referrals to immigration agencies, while one expressed satisfaction, indicating that the “Plainfield Latino community is proud of what the Plainfield Police is doing. Congratulations.”
The meeting was facilitated by the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, with remarks by the Union County Prosecutor, the First Assistant to the Prosecutor and Plainfield Police Director, and short presentations by Detectives of the Plainfield Police Division explaining crime reporting and complaint processes. Immigrant participants included congregants and members of from local churches and civic groups including Casa de Oración, Centro Cristiano Casa de Gloria, First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, Fundación Ángeles en Acción, Iglesia Cristiana Misión Torre Fuerte, Ministerio Dios con Nosotros, Ministerio Internacional Puerta del Cielo, Project Hope, Pax Christi, and St. Mary’s Román Catholic Church.