Mayor Andre Saeg says that when he took office in Patterson in 2018, there was police misconduct and that he was working on it.

“Patterson police officers did not wear body cameras before my administration; now they wear body cameras. There has never been a thorough audit of the police department to find out what practices are going on. We have completed this audit. One of the main recommendations was to increase the focus on de-escalation and the training of your police officers — they received additional training on de-escalation,” said Sayegh.

But many describe community-police relations in Paterson as “toxic.” The wrongful death charge against Thelonious McKnight, who was shot and killed by Paterson police nearly a year ago, is one of several charges against Paterson police in recent years. Law enforcement leaders say they will support broader reforms to hold officers accountable.

Calls for reform in Patterson echo those in Newark nearly a decade ago. Capt. Leonardo Carrillo said the reforms in Newark include “bias policing policies; community police; the practice of stop, search and arrest, the use of force, and the First Amendment right to record police activity.”

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