TCNJ’s campus police are walking the walk when it comes to community policing. The 29-member department has built relationships with a host of constituencies and been involved in a raft of events and initiatives on campus and in the college’s neighboring communities.
In recent years, TCNJ campus police have spearheaded food and toy drives and donated refurbished bicycles and backpacks filled with school supplies for students in Trenton. They’ve participated in special events for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and joined in Ewing Township’s Scarecrow scavenger contest and trunk-or-treat events at Ewing schools.
On campus, the department works closely with the student-staffed Emergency Medical Services and has made an effort to reach out to every other corner of campus. They recently hosted a safety night on campus, and are currently working with Greek organizations on their annual Christmas toy drive.
“We’re part of the community so we want to work hand in hand with faculty, staff, and students on everything we do,” said Chief Timothy Grant. “We want cooperative relationships across campus.”
For Patrolman Desi Fioravanti, the goal is inclusivity.
“A college is its own little town and your community should know its officers on a first-name basis,” said Fioravanti, who has been involved in outreach and also serves as a staff representative to the TCNJ Board of Trustees.
A new Instagram account for the department — run by student Kaitlyn Donnelly ’23 — has grown to over 600 followers this semester. There’s a button for complaints and compliments on the department’s website, and a survey seeking input on campus policing is expected to be sent to the community next semester, said Grant.
Accountability is key, said Grant, noting that the department embraced body cameras long before they were mandated by the state. Fioravanti said the goal is avoiding the often fraught community-police relations that have roiled cities around the nation.
“We listen to concerns, it’s about building a rapport,” said Fioravanti. “Interaction with law enforcement doesn’t have to be negative. Our department is about putting community first, helping first.”
— Patricia Alex