Buster Soaries, police chief ask feds to help ease tensions in Franklin


By Tiffani N. Garlic
New Jersey Star-Ledger
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (Somerset) — The township’s police chief has joined a leading minister in asking the federal government to help improve relations between the police and the community. The request follows a last week’s melee between high school students and officers from six police departments.

“The racial makeup of the police and those apprehended has made this incident much more than a simple law enforcement matter,” former New Jersey Secretary of State Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries wrote in his letter to the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service on Tuesday.

“Allegations of excessive force and police brutality are simmering beneath the surface of an encounter that has been characterized as a student riot,” the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens wrote.

Soaries added that federal involvement could “help our community produce an improved relationship between the Franklin Township police department and it’s community, particularly African-Americans.”
Today, Chief Craig Novick echoed Soaries’ statements in a letter of his own to the federal agency. He added that their involvement would be beneficial to healing the community.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure this agency remains transparent and beyond reproach,” he wrote. “Additionally, I remain committed to and care deeply for all of my fellow citizens and community members here in Franklin Township.” Full story.

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