Stockton Receives $700,000 Grant for Policing Project
Galloway, N.J.- Motorists and pedestrians stopped by police in Atlantic City or Pleasantville this summer might also be asked to be part of a research project.
Stockton University has received a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct and assess a new policing intervention in Atlantic City and Pleasantville that focuses on improving police-citizen interactions during traffic stops with residents and visitors.
“We want to increase transparency, and also citizen compliance, satisfaction and trust in the police,” said Stockton Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Nusret Sahin, who is the lead investigator on the EPJETS project (Enhancing Procedural-Justness of Encounters Through Substantiation).
Starting this summer, and over the next 18 months, some 2,000 traffic stops in Atlantic City and Pleasantville will be monitored as part of the study. Those stopped will be given information about traffic stops. The findings will be used to improve police-community relations.
At a press conference Monday announcing the project, police chiefs said they support the project and its goals.
James Sarkos, interim officer in charge, Atlantic City Police Department said the entire department is involved with the procedural justice training offered through Stockton and the new research takes that training to the next level.
“I have seen first-hand the benefits,” Sarkos said. “This project will scientifically validate how we can improve police-community relations.”
Pleasantville Police Chief Sean Riggin said the project gives his smaller department the opportunity to partner on a major initiative.
“I am struck by the caliber of people on this project,” he said. “This will be transformative.”
Stockton is partnering with faculty at Rutgers and Northwestern University on the initiative.
Joel Caplan, a professor at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice said police community relations is an important topic at this time.
Northwestern Assistant Professor of Linguistics Rob Voigt said the project is taking a unique and important approach to interpersonal communication by utilizing the bodycam videos.
“We can look at the content of the interactions in both the treatment and control groups,” Voigt said.
Two former police officers and now instructors at Stockton, William J. McKnight and Rick Mulvihill are also serving as experts on the project along with Stockton Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Manish Madan and Dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences Marissa Levy.