TRENTON — Prominent members of the community have been tasked by Mayor Reed Gusciora to be part of the state's largest public safety advisory committee in an effort to stem violence in the capital city.

The CHANGE committee (Citizens’ Health And Neighborhood Growth Engagement) will meet every six months to bring together city departments, community stakeholders, and city residents to discuss city issues. Their concerns will in turn be brought to the administration, City Council, Mercer County Prosecutor's Office and the public schools

Gusciora said determining those issues takes more just himself and the police director.

"It’s going to take community partners from the state, from Mercer County, and from inside our City — maybe even from City Council," Gusciora continued. "But most of all, it’s going to take the engagement of our citizens. These remarkable citizens have offered their time and dedication as members of the inaugural CHANGE Committee. They are the leaders we need to start the discussion."

Trenton police director Steve Wilson
Trenton police director Steve Wilson (Brian McCarthy)
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Election year move?

Looming over it is the ongoing problem of violence in Trenton. According to a tally by MidJersey.news, there have been 10 homicides in Trenton so this year. Gusciora acknowledged that it is an election year but that the CHANGE Committee goes beyond politics.

"This is because of the uptick in violence and the summer is upon us. We need that very public dialogue whether I'm here or not in the fall. This is a committee that should be in place in the future," Gusciora said.

The mayor said other cities have community advisory groups including Newark which has one to oversee the police.

"This is akin to that but it's our own special brand to be more holistic in its vision. It's not just to go after disciplinary matters but there's such a host of issues involving public safety," Gusciora said.

Gusciora said the committee will advise on the use of American Rescue Plan money for the training of new police officers to pay for overtime and cover mental health counseling.

The eleven members of the CHANGE Committee:

  • Charles Boyer, pastor of the Greater Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church in Trenton
  • Jonette Smart
  • Kenneth Miles, journalist and founder of The Trenton Journal
  • Pearlie Ames-Murray, apostolic minister & author at Greater Works Ministries
  • Phillip Bonaparte, senior pastor of New Hope Church of God
  • Rachel Cogsville-Lattimer, vice president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations
  • Regina Thompson-Jenkins, founder & CEO of the Tre' Devon Lane Foundation
  • Robert Donaldson, program director at CYO ESSC of Mercer County
  • Rosa Lewis, mother
  • Rosa Rosado, owner/operator of the Trenton McDonald's
  • Timothy Jordan, pastor at the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church

This report was corrected that Jonette Smart is not president of the Trenton Branch NAACP. That position is held by Leslie Summiel Jr..

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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