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A story today from NJ Advance Media (nj.com) on law enforcement use of force will look to develop controversy and discontent by providing data with little context about the use of force officers are required to use. Police officers face an unparalleled challenge of saving lives, restoring peace, and bringing criminals to justice. The situations they face are dynamic and involve split second decisions. They are not done within the safety and security of a newsroom. The actions they take can mean life or death. In 2016 alone over 1,800 New Jersey Police Officers were assaulted while doing the job of protecting the communities they serve. The number of assaults on officers increased 8% and contempt for law enforcement is a growing trend nationwide. Often thanks to irresponsible and half-written articles like the one released today.

Yes, law enforcement is permitted to use force, and newspapers buy ink in barrels. No revelations there. Unfortunately print media has all but disappeared and has been replaced with online news. When you can't count newspapers anymore to tout your commercial success you have to generate "clicks" to sell advertising at top dollar. Regretfully, that has led to the demise of legitimate journalism in this country.

I knew where this "investigative report" was going the moment I saw the teaser headings and salacious preview video. It worked a few months ago for another NJ news organization so why not give it a crack here at nj.com. They have provided you with a clickable database for watercooler banter today, nothing more. Like TMZ, Inside Edition and the like they are giving you a suggestive bit of sensational data to keep an unsuspecting public engaged. Regretfully and unfortunately they have only told half the story. True journalists at least attempt to tell an entire story.

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The November 2018 issue of NJ COPS Magazine is out and it contains vital information for our retired members from PBA LOCAL 600 regarding the upcoming PFRS Retired Trustee election.

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I reached out to the New Brunswick Police Department today and asked them to cancel the ride-along scheduled tonight for RWJ Barnabas Executive Michellene Davis.  New Brunswick police agreed and the ride-along is officially canceled. In my opinion, the ride-long was turning into a media spectacle.  This was never my intention.  My responsibilities and loyalties are with the 33,000+ members of the NJSPBA, not the RWJ Barnabas Health public relations team.

As background, in response to an anti-law enforcement social media post by RWJ Barnabas Health Executive Michellene Davis, I went live on 101.5FM radio at 8:08am the morning the story broke and publicly called her and her employer out for anti-police bias.  I called her social media post ignorant and irresponsible that morning and I stand by those thoughts today.

At the time, I also challenged Ms. Davis to put on a bullet proof vest and ride along with police, an offer that she accepted.  I contacted New Brunswick police and they agreed to invite Ms. Davis on a ride-along.  I believe that to change anti-police bias we need to educate community influencers. The ride-along was always intended to show Ms. Davis first-hand what law enforcement has to experience each and every shift— for her to spend a night in our shoes.  I have not been asked by anyone at any time to “fix” this situation, and the ride-along challenge was made before RWJ Barnabas made any decision on Ms. Davis’ employment status.

After the controversy broke, Ms. Davis offered the following apology on social media: “I want to publicly apologize for an extremely insensitive and offensive comment posted on Facebook.  My concern for the safety of schoolchildren and gun violence led me to react to a headline without thinking. Having a late sister and other family in law enforcement I deeply respect the law enforcement community and appreciate their service and admire their sacrifice.”

Ms. Davis’ ignorant Facebook comment and the resulting media coverage shed light on what I believe is one of the most important things for law enforcement.  We must all stand together because any attack on law enforcement, regardless of whether the attack is on a local patrol officer or the state’s top law enforcement officer, is an attack on us all. 
 
Sincerely,
Pat Colligan
President, NJSPBA

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