Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh on Thursday announced a series of initiatives to restore relations between the city police and residents following the death of Jameek Lowery, who died of meningitis after an encounter with Paterson officers earlier this month.
“This is a call for unity, which starts with trust. Serving as a police officer is not an easy job – we all know that. But it is a job that requires trust,” Sayegh said. “And it is perfectly reasonable for people’s faith and trust in law enforcement to be shaken.”
Prior to his death, told police he had taken ecstasy and later believed police were trying to kill him. While he was in their custody, officers refused to give Lowery water. Three officers involved in the handling of his case have been suspended pending the conclusion of an investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor.
Sayegh has proposed five initiatives to combat the distrust brewing in the wake of Lowery’s death.
The mayor intends to order an audit of the police department by an outside group, pursue body camera for city police officers, create a citizen advisory board, prioritize hiring Paterson residents as police officers and have community faith leaders train officers in conflict de-escalation.