Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced a statewide campaign to prevent conflict in police-civilian interactions Wednesday during an event at Friendship Baptist Church in downtown Trenton.
While a national conversation about race and law enforcement rages on, Porrino said, the aim of the campaign is to reduce tension in police-civilian interactions and to strengthen relationships between police and the communities in which they patrol.
The campaign - called Safe Stop - will kick off this month with a series of public service announcements (PSA) starring officers across the state, community leaders -- and even some professional athletes.
"Debates are raging around the county in pro sports and elsewhere," Porrino said. "We are not suggesting that conversation should stop, we are here to take concrete steps to come together as a unified community."
Porrino said he spends much of his time reviewing officers' body camera footage and noticed physical conflict often stemmed from miscommunication or a lack of knowledge during a routine traffic stop.
The PSAs, which will run on local television, online and in movie theaters through the end of the year, are intended to review the rules and rights citizens have during interactions with police.
Former New York Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead, who now lives in Hamilton, recorded a PSA for the campaign, saying the idea sparked an important conversation.
"At the end of the day, everybody in this room wants to make it home to our families," Armstead said of his involvement. "And that's one thing we all have to remember. Respect each other. Respect the work a police officer's got to do, and they'll respect the citizen."
Former NBA player and Newark-native Shaquille O'Neal also recorded a video for the campaign.
"Nobody likes traffic stops," he said in the video. "But if there's a stop, we all want it to be easy, smooth and safe."
In addition to the campaign, Porrino said, those who want to file a complaint about the way a traffic stop or other interaction with police was handled, will now be able to check the status of their complaint through a direct line within the Attorney General's office.
"Bad cops give everybody in law enforcement a bad name," he added. "If there are police officers on the road that shouldn't be, I want to know about it."