In an effort to improve community-police relations, Paterson, N.J. Mayor Andre Sayegh announces several changes to the city’s police department in the wake of the death of Black, 27-year-old Jameek Lowery after he was refused assistance by officers.
Speaking at a news conference last week at city hall, Sayegh acknowledged that the community has lost trust in local police officers.
“I recognize that there have been specific incidents here in Paterson that have played a significant role here,” he said. “This will help us avoid mistrust, misunderstanding and miscommunication.”
Reports indicate that officers will go through additional training in crisis intervention and will be required to undergo cultural and racial sensitivity training. An independent authority will be hired to audit the police department and a citizen advisory board is being created. The city is also securing funding to equip officers with body cameras.
Earlier this month, Lowery walked into the Paterson police headquarters asking for water and was denied by officers. In a Facebook Live video shot by Lowery, he is seen sweating and foaming at the mouth while asking police for help. The officers reply that they weren’t allowed to give him any water.
Later that night, police called an ambulance and Lowery was taken to the hospital, where he died two days later. Family members say he had a broken cheekbone and fractured eye socket when he died. They believe officers assaulted him in the ambulance. Health department officials said Lowery died from spinal meningitis.
“These initiatives, these tools for trust tackle the mistrust head on and can put us back on a path to a city where everyone feels that they are treated the same and receive the same protection and help,” Sayegh said.