PSEG Foundation and The Rutgers University Center on Policing have announced a first-of-its-kind police reform initiative to help New Jersey police departments review policies and practices and improve relationships with diverse communities.

PSEG has given Rutgers $300,000 in seed money to start the project.

Linda Tartaglia, director of The Center on Policing at Rutgers, said the funding from PSEG will be used to offset some staff time and to bring subject matter experts into the process to provide the technical assistance that the police departments will be needing.

The programs are customized and up to each police department.

Tartaglia said we need to remember that part of what has to happen in police reform is that community members need to be brought into the process so that policies and scenario-based training can be developed that deals with the specific issues of that community or neighborhood.

New Jersey police departments want to be ahead of any problems they may have and they're not always sure how to go about doing that review or looking at the data that would point them in the direction that could be problematic, said Tartaglia. That's where COP comes in to help with that.

The program comes at a time when public officials and communities are examining the role of police as a result of high-profile deadly incidents. Some of those problems have created a tipping point, Tartaglia said.

"When that happens, it gives people the incentive to make the changes that they need to do. It's basically a demand for action is finally heard," she said.

She hopes PSEG's involvement will spark other corporations to get involved.

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