The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

The CopDoc Podcast, Ep 54, Ivonne Roman, Retired Chief Newark, NJ Police

January 10, 2022 Ivonne Roman Season 3 Episode 54
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
The CopDoc Podcast, Ep 54, Ivonne Roman, Retired Chief Newark, NJ Police
Show Notes Transcript

Ivonne Roman is a veteran of the Newark, NJ Police  Department, retiring as Chief of Police.  She is a doctoral candidate at  Rutgers University in Camden, NJ.  

Ivonne lives in Central New Jersey and was instrumental in the development of the 30x30 Project, working with NIJ and later the Policing Project at NYU School of Law. aimed at raising the number of women to 30% by 2030.  

We spoke about women in policing, the difficulties of acceptance of women in policing from the 70s to the 90s, evidence-based approaches to policing, and the community relations in Newark, NJ. 


[00:00:02.930] - Intro 

Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopDoc shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc podcast.

 


[00:00:41.710] - Steve Morreale

Hello, everybody. This is Steve Morreale from Boston, and we're beginning another episode of The CopDoc Podcast. I have the privilege and honor to talk to Ivonne Roman. She is the Roman. She is the former chief for a short time at the Newark Police Department, recently retired, and we're talking to her in New Jersey. Good morning to you, Ivonne.

 


[00:01:00.590] - Ivonne Roman 

Good morning. Thanks for having me.

 


[00:01:02.270] - Steve Morreale

Thanks for being here. So right now you were a Newark police officer for a long time, but right now you're living in the south. Is that right or in Central Jersey?

 


[00:01:11.680] - Ivonne Roman 

Yes.

 


[00:01:12.080] - Steve Morreale

Okay. So talk about your past. How long are we with Newark? What are the things that you did along the way? And one of the things we're going to talk about is a 30 X 30 program, which would mean that you are pushing very hard with other players too by 2030 aim for 30% women in policing. Is that right?

 


[00:01:28.900] - Ivonne Roman 

That's correct. I was in Newark for 25 years. I started in 1995, and I just retired last year in April. While I was there in Newark, I held every rank from police officer to police chief. While I was working in the Director's office, we had a personnel crisis, actually, and it was looming. We had laid off 167 police officers in 2010, but by the time we got to 2014, we should actually have lost 400 cops because of attrition like so many other cities. We had hired a ton of cops through the Cops grants and the Clinton office in the 90s, and we had approximately 600 officers that were eligible for retirement by 2021.

 


[00:02:09.460] - Ivonne Roman 

So we started hiring at a very fast clip. And that's when I noticed that women were failing at rates between 60 and 80% in New Jersey police academies. And it didn't matter which police Academy they went to because we were sending them all over the state because we had to hire so quickly.

 


[00:02:24.160] - Speaker 2

That's a very high number of offices for those who don't necessarily fully understand how cumbersome, how time consuming the hiring process is. Talk about the hiring process that you experienced in Newark. And let me just suggest so I apply. There's an opening. I apply. That's it. I send the document in what happens next.

 


[00:02:42.980] - Ivonne Roman 

You apply, and then the civil service will assign you when to take the test. And the test only comes out the written exam every two years. So if you wait too long, you might miss it, and you have to wait until those two years are up. Then they'll promulgate a list that the city will be able to hire from from that list, we have to start doing the background checks. So we check their credit, their psychological check, their neighbors, their employers, and then we'll send them to a psychological exam and then give them an offer of employment.

 


[00:03:15.580] - Ivonne Roman 

So in New Jersey, unlike other States, you're an employee when they send you to the Academy. But in New Jersey, they weren't checking for physical fitness until you got to the Academy. And they had made a rule where you had to get tested within the first ten workouts. And if you didn't pass that physical fitness test, you were told to either resign or you were terminated. So now this huge investment by the city by the person employed now because now they're employee, they've quit their jobs.

 


[00:03:41.530] - Ivonne Roman 

They've invested over $2,000 in equipment just to lose that individual after they pass this lengthy and cumbersome process, as you mentioned. So they're perfectly qualified. But they couldn't meet those fitness standards. And predominantly, it was women that we were losing. Like I said, 60% to 80%, we were losing because ten workouts isn't enough time to build that upper body strength.

 


[00:04:02.200] - Steve Morreale

So I presume you were watching this. You were looking at the data, and I know that you're very big into evidence-based policing and certainly letting the data talk to us when you figured that out, what steps did you begin to take?

 


[00:04:13.180] - Ivonne Roman 

I couldn't figure out what was going on. I went down to the Academy and talked to the Academy directors, and they told me that these people weren't passing the test and that the reason that they were so rigid. It was to prevent injuries in the long run. So that's the reason they were eliminated. But they couldn't give me the data on what the injury rate was before and whether it had improved with this new policy. And I mentioned that it could produce an EEOC claim because they require that if women or some other group that's marginalized sales at less than 80% of the majority, then that test has to be validated as being work related, and that test hadn't been validated as being work related.

 


[00:04:53.710] - Ivonne Roman 

So the more I asked questions. And again, it was because we were in such dire Straits. In Newark, police officers would come in and they were almost guaranteed to work a double and get called in on their days off. They couldn't submit for a day off because it would get denied. So then they weren't asking for a day off. They were calling in sick. It was just a bloodbath, and women were scoring very high on the written exam, and they were passing at a much greater rate background check than men.

 


[00:05:17.250] - Ivonne Roman 

So the classes were very large groups of women, and we were losing them. And like I just mentioned, it may be two or three years before we have another list available.

 


[00:05:24.750] - Steve Morreale

So what did you begin to do? It seems to me that you begin to talk about mentoring women, letting them know what the expectations were getting in front of physical fitness and preparation for this was that unique in New Jersey.

 


[00:05:37.760] - Ivonne Roman 

So I looked at the data, and there isn't a whole lot of data available. The Bureau of Justice Statistics gathers volunteer data from academies, and according to those statistics, women pass at a rate of 81%, and men passed at a rate of 89%. But that was the average. But New Jersey was much higher than that. And it took a while for me to figure out that it was that test because we had twelve different academies and we were sending cops pretty much to all those academies. But then I noticed that it didn't matter which academies we were going to, and because that data is only collected every three or four years.

 


[00:06:13.310] - Ivonne Roman 

And then it takes two or three years to process that data. The data I was looking at was about seven years old, and it seems that that change that I was noticing was happening over two or three years. It started in 2015. But then I wasn't sure because I asked for the records from the Police Training Commission, and they told me it would cost me $5,000 for the data. So I sent them the money. And then after sending them the money, they said upon further review, those records are confidential.

 


[00:06:40.870] - Ivonne Roman 

So it took a long time to figure out what was happening.

 


[00:06:44.690] - Steve Morreale

What records were confidential?

 


[00:06:46.290] - Ivonne Roman 

I wanted the attrition rates for the Academy based on race and gender, and they said first that it would take too long, that it would be prohibitively expensive. I asked how much they asked me how much I had. I said I had $100, and they gave me a bill for $5,000. So I had just gotten a grant to increase the number of women in policing, and I thought it was a good investment to have the data on what exactly the scope I was dealing with got you.

 


[00:07:09.590] - Steve Morreale

Well, that's an uphill battle. Were you able to in the Department find some other Champions, or were you sort of singing in the wind?

 


[00:07:17.970] - Ivonne Roman 

I was surprised at the pushback I was getting well, a lot of the police directors and police Chiefs were banging their heads against the wall, just as I was, because they need personnel and they need to keep up with attrition the police Academy. Directors were saying that these were the regulations promulgated by the Police Training Commission and that they could lose their accreditation if they bent the rules. But I was trying to figure out what we could do to prevent these numbers. So I asked them if they could train the applicants to pass this test, and some were hesitant saying that that could lead to liabilities if they got injured.

 


[00:07:47.060] - Ivonne Roman 

But some academies were doing it. So I hear that Union County Academy was bringing in applicants on the weekends and that they were having some success with that. So I decided to start training women on the weekends myself because I couldn't find anyone that was really interested in doing that or wasn't fearing that someone might sue them. So I came up with some generic form that they give you at a gym that says your hold of any liability. And I went from 60% to 80% women failing to the women in my program 97% passing.

 


[00:08:15.310] - Ivonne Roman 

So what I found was that they could meet those physical fitness requirements, most of the upper body strength within three months. But police academies are five months long, so if they had only moved where they test to a later date, they wouldn't have lost all those candidates. And it was something so simple as working out with them on Saturdays, and I would show them exactly what the test was. And then during the week, we had a group chat and they would show me that they were making progress, that they were sticking with the routines.

 


[00:08:39.520] - Ivonne Roman 

And I just wanted them to focus on what they were going to be tested on. So they had to do push-ups every day, and we'd make it fun. We'd say someone would say, okay, give me ten. And wherever they were at, they had to post a video of them doing their push-ups. So it was fun. We had women under their desk doing push-ups in parking lots. We had one lady who was at a funeral when she went out into the lobby she did push-ups.

 


[00:08:59.790] - Ivonne Roman 

So it really kept them motivated. And they started passing. And people started noting that you could increase the pass rate if you really just show them what was required, you have to keep in mind that policing sometimes it's a family profession, and women might not have family members that can guide them through that process. So a little mentoring goes a long way.

 


[00:09:17.260] - Steve Morreale

So 30 by 30, how did that take hold? And how did that become so prominent?

 


[00:09:22.220] - Ivonne Roman 

So I had applied to a program called LEADS - Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science. Maureen McGough was at Department of Justice, and she was overseeing the program. So she was the one that selected me. And at this time I was already having difficulties because I was bringing attention to the number of women that were being dismissed from academies. And surprisingly, I got a letter of non-support from my director and chief, Lukewarm support. It said, though they commend me on wanting to further my education, that it could in no way shape or form interfere with my duties as the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division.

 


[00:09:57.350] - Ivonne Roman 

And the letter was supposed to say that I could attend the event, but I had a solid research plan, and Maureen selected me. And when I got there, I started sharing with her the problems that I was facing and how easy it was to fix it just nearly train these women, let them know what the process is. So she decided to see if it was an issue that was widespread. And she had a breakfast for all the women in the program. And there were a lot of similarities in what we were experiencing, pushback, the way that women were assigned or promoted, and how that differed in men.

 


[00:10:28.830] - Ivonne Roman 

So from that Women in Policing breakfast at IACP decided to have a summit hosted by the National Institute of justice. And that summit was what led to the report from NIJ breaking barriers and blazing a path. And at that summit, our keynote speaker was Penny Harrington, the first police chief of a major city in the United States. And she just happened to die on Wednesday. She truly was a pioneer. She actually had to file 42 lawsuits in Portland for women to come in so women could stop wearing heels and silk blouses so that women didn't have to carry their guns in their purse.

 


[00:11:03.620] - Ivonne Roman 

So women can get promoted to Detective and every rank that she went up. She had to sue to be

 


[00:11:09.510] - Steve Morreale

She was the first, right?

 


[00:11:10.670] - Ivonne Roman 

Yeah. She was the first all along the way. And it really is tragic that we lost her. But I'm so grateful that I was able to meet her now. I interviewed her when I was at the Marshall Project. It was my first journalism piece, and that then she was able to support us when we had the Women in Policing summit.

 


[00:11:24.860] - Steve Morreale

So let me ask you a couple of questions about this. And you may not know, but I started in policing in 75 in the army, and I was an MP. And at that point in time, I was in a company, a training company where the first women were allowed to be MPs, five of them. When I got out of the army, there was no woman in 77, 78 in Massachusetts, there were no women allowed. There was the same sort of a thing. There was this grant that came to say, hey, let's try to add women to the police force.

 


[00:11:50.430] - Steve Morreale

One police Department, Newton, Massachusetts Police Department hired ten to twelve women at the same time, and it drew the ire of virtually every spouse of the almost all or totally all-male Department. No women in my cruiser with my husband. That kind of stuff. So I've lived it. I understand it. I'm the father of three daughters. So I understand my guess is that we're still in the ten to 12% range of women in policing. Is that accurate?

 


[00:12:15.940] - Ivonne Roman 

Yes, it is. That number has been stagnant for about 25, 25 years, a little more.

 


[00:12:21.210] - Steve Morreale

So you bring this group of people together, you say we've got to do something about it. You come up many months ago, you were working on this thing called 30 by 30. And the next thing I know that there's something coming out saying we're adopting it. And we're happy to say that 50 agencies have signed on major agencies. Is that true Ivonne?

 


[00:12:39.470] - Ivonne Roman 

Yeah.

 


[00:12:40.010] - Steve Morreale

And that number is much higher. What is it now?

 


[00:12:41.990] - Ivonne Roman 

We are at 104 right now, and we launched in March with 25 agencies, and we're in September now we have 104. It's since 2015 that I've been advocating for this. But I'm really thrilled that agencies are embracing this and that there are Chiefs that really want to diversify their agencies and take the active steps to do that.

 


[00:12:59.870] - Steve Morreale

I know some of the work that you did while you were at NIJ, and what you continue to do is to take a look at any evidence or any research that focuses on women in policing. What's the big deal about having women in policing? And I say that facetiously. But what's the big deal?

 


[00:13:13.660] - Ivonne Roman 

I found research dating back to the 70s and all along from the 70s forward that shows that women can deescalate without ever being trained to do that. Some female Chiefs say we invented the escalation when before the term ever existed. And why is that? I may not be able to go to tow with you. So it's in my best interest to get you to cooperate, to be able to use what I have my communication skills. They produce less lawsuits, they produce less citizen complaints. They're highly rated by citizens saying that they're satisfied with their services.

 

 

 


[00:13:43.880] - Ivonne Roman 

Some agencies find that they have a calming effect on officers overall, when they are part of the group. And sometimes people will tell me, Well, I know about this incident that went wrong or that incident that went wrong. And I tell them what we're talking about science. So we're talking about what falls under the Bell curve. And yes, there will be sensational incidents. We're not saying that every woman is a fantastic officer, but when you look at them and the aggregate, they have really great outcomes that can improve outcomes for police department in 95.

 


[00:14:09.650] - Ivonne Roman 

When you started, were you facing some of these uphill battles trying to prove yourself?

 


[00:14:13.080] - Ivonne Roman 

Absolutely. I had to work twice as hard for half the credit. And so people liked me. But I had to make a really strong effort to always be there in front of a chase or be the first ones to go and put my hands on someone that resisting to prove that I can carry my own weight. And I don't think that men felt that burden of that pressure that really being on the scene. People were assessing how they're performing right. And I remember someone saying you should apply for this specialized unit.

 


[00:14:41.870] - Ivonne Roman 

And at that point, numbers and even today numbers are supreme. Right. So they look at your arrest, they look at your stuff. And I was always in the top three. So they said, speak to him. And I spoke to this Lieutenant, and he was very dismissive. And then after I left the room, he told another Lieutenant, first of all, she doesn't have enough time on the job. And second of all, she's a woman. And that was really discouraging because I was doing everything that a man would be required to do to be considered for these type of assignments.

 


[00:15:08.870] - Steve Morreale

Let's go back and change the subject a little bit. You're so involved, you have 25 years in policing. You're continuing to pay attention to this niche. And I don't mean that negatively, but this important element of policing and adding women to the workforce in greater numbers. But as you watch, let's talk about January 6, what was your view when you saw January 6 happen?

 


[00:15:29.910] - Ivonne Roman 

I think that was you have to look at it in the context we were - and there had been a lot of protests over the summer, and there was a lot of criticism with the police response. So after the incident happened, we hear that the Mayor of DC didn't want such a strong police presence that they wanted to have a softer approach. But I recall listening to the news leading up to that and that it was going to be a very big DEA. And the folks that were attending this event weren't shy about saying that they were going to fight, that they were going to fight for what they believed was right, that they would do anything required.

 


[00:16:04.330] - Ivonne Roman 

So I think there was a huge failing and an underestimation. So you have an overreaction during these protests that focused on black lives matter. And then you had a poor response, a failure to prepare when they learned that this incident was happening January 6, and they could have had officers staged nearby and have equipment staged nearby that they could have used. So I think it was also the way they analyze who was protesting and biases. This group is deemed more violent than this group. This group is pro-cop, so nothing should go wrong. And we saw that that wasn't the case.

 


[00:16:39.650] - Steve Morreale

It was horrible to watch for sure. And people lost their lives and people were beaten. Police officers.

 


[00:16:44.780] - Ivonne Roman 

It's horrific.

 


[00:16:45.510] - Steve Morreale

Yeah. And the things that were used, plus the break into our hallowed grounds, our capital is crazy. So as you look at policing and as you leave the New York Department, and by the way, we're talking to Von Roman and she was the previous chief, the New York Police Department and is active in an effort for 30 by 30 to have 30% women in policing by 2030. What do you think are the top three things, Yvonne, that policing needs to attend to? What do they need to focus on?

 


[00:17:13.060] - Ivonne Roman 

I think they have an image of who is a police officer and what a police officer should be and that everything evolves and we haven't reevaluated what it means to be a police officer. There's this image that is this warrior, this strong person that comes in and aids people. And, yes, there is a part that is dangerous. But overall, policing and cops cringe when I say this is very social work-oriented. If you look at a police officer's job, he's going from interpersonal conflict to interpersonal conflict.

 


[00:17:44.550] - Ivonne Roman 

And we tend to recruit based on this image of the strong burly cop. When we should be looking at people that are good at interpersonal communication, people with mental illness, that it would go a long way to have those skills. And that's a different conversation, because I don't think that police officers are the best suited to handle those calls. But maybe we should be recruiting bartenders who sit there and listen to people's problems all day long. Nurses, social workers, people who have that skill set to deal with interpersonal conflict and social problems.

 


[00:18:16.220] - Steve Morreale

Well, and it's interesting. I'm not sure the Academies yet pay attention to the soft skills that you're talking about. And that's very important.

 


[00:18:23.420] – Ivonne Roman

Yeah. They over-emphasize. 

 


[00:18:24.790] - Steve Morreale

They're important. And I think to use your word, too, I think, as I say it, as I'm speaking about the changes necessary for police training. One of the things is the ability to communicate, the ability to deescalate, the ability to understand, seek for us to understand and then be understood and that those soft skills have to be attended to it. And we don't have to always be defending ourselves to minimize. But we spend so much time about guns and hands on and handcuffs and less than lethal and all of those things and very, very small time is spent to develop soft skills.

 


[00:18:56.320] - Steve Morreale

So there's room for improvement there.

 


[00:18:57.940] - Ivonne Roman 

I get a lot of pushback, especially from older cops. I put a Facebook post about other workouts with the women, and an old timer wrote, all great, another affirmative action program to make things easier for people who can't cut it. And I said, sir, we're in the park working out. We're doing the exact same physical fitness exam that the men are doing. There's nothing different. Why does it piss you off so much that we're in the park working out what the guys are probably doing in the gym.

 


[00:19:22.790] - Ivonne Roman 

Right. So it's this perception that there's some kind of unfair advantage being given to women if you let them on the job, if anything's focused on recruiting more women, the assumption is that they don't deserve to be there, that they're not another man's equal.

 


[00:19:35.720] - Steve Morreale

So let's continue that conversation about leasing and what policing has to do to reverse the distrust, to Polish up the image. What's your sense about the George Floyd incident and so many others and how so many departments were painted with the broad brush that everybody is like Derek Chauvin. What's your thought about that in terms of what most police departments are like, including Newark? From your perspective?

 


[00:20:02.270] - Ivonne Roman 

So Newark came under a Consent Decree in 2016, it was signed. And so they've been operating under the consent decree for five years now. This happened at the same time that they elected a new Mayor. That Mayor was very progressive. His father was an activist in the 60s and the 70s. And he already had these relationships with the community from when he was a child. So what's interesting is that as these protests swept across America, we had protests land in Newark, and it was the citizens who stood between a mob and the police Department, and they were ready to burn it down.

 


[00:20:37.460] - Ivonne Roman 

And the residents were saying, You're not going to burn down our precinct. The cops didn't have to go hands on with anyone. The residents didn't do it. But it took investing in those relationships. He was from the community. He had these relationships already, so he could sway that these residents in this community. So really, the police Department benefited from his long history within the community, being an activist and grassroots organizer. So from that, we can learn lessons, right. He prevented a large-scale unrest in Newark, and no one was hurt.

 


[00:21:08.430] - Ivonne Roman 

Nothing was burned. So what can Chiefs learn from that? You can't wait until the crisis to then reach out to community leaders that those relationships have to exist and that trust has to be in place before you need to call them. Right. So I think a lot of police departments are working towards that. And I see genuine effort in that. And I think that the criticism, though, it's rooted in the history of policing, right. That policing has resulted in disparities on communities based on race, that you have to recognize that police departments now are aiming in the right direction, that they're taking active steps.

 


[00:21:43.000] - Ivonne Roman 

They're not just giving it lip service. They are trying to improve relationships. A lot of police departments, I can't say with a blanket brush, that all Chiefs are doing that. But you see it happening.

 


[00:21:52.720] - Steve Morreale

Let's go back to your 95 days. And as you know, there were times that I spent time Newark with the Drug Enforcement Administration. And I remember probably the late 80s, that you would drive by certain areas. And there were shells still there from the riots in the 60s. What was your thought as you would drive by those blighted areas in Newark when I was growing up.

 


[00:22:12.800] - Ivonne Roman 

It was very segregated. So you had your Latinos in one area, you had your black community, your Portuguese, you're Italian. So when I became a police officer was actually the first time I had gone to a lot of sections of north, and the section I was assigned was like you just described blocks and blocks of abandoned or burned down buildings. And I couldn't wrap my head around that the riots happened in the 60s and the 70s, and these neighborhoods were still like this and that people were living in these burnt out buildings.

 


[00:22:40.300] - Ivonne Roman 

Someone said it looked like a war zone after the blitz in World War II. So I've seen a lot of improvement over the years, right. But it's come from investment into cities. And I think that we rely on police to handle a lot of the social ills. And if you invest in communities, that is how you'll get communities to re emerge and to be vibrant, you can't rely on strictly sending the cops in to arrest what you don't want to see. You don't want to see loitering, you don't want to see the homeless.

 


[00:23:10.030] - Ivonne Roman 

But there are reasons why kids, teenagers have nowhere to go but the front, stupid or house or the corner. There's a reason why these homeless are laying on the street. They don't have a home, and the police can't be the answer to that, because once that person comes out of jail as a homeless person, they're still homeless.

 


[00:23:25.880] - Steve Morreale

When you said that, I just thought and I wrote down the importance of collaboration and partnerships, as you certainly know. And it takes a special police officer or a mindset of police officers to realize exactly what you just said. We can't arrest ourselves out of problem. We have to work together in the community, talk about those partnerships that even you were engaged in and convincing other officers that this was beneficial to work with the community so that they weren't always against you. They were actually working hand in hand, as you just said, happened when the community performed a buffer between the attackers and the police themselves.

 


[00:23:58.790] - Ivonne Roman 

So I had a very close relationship with my community leaders. I created what was called precinct Council, and so I had my group and each commander decided how they wanted to run their precinct Council. But it was so you can have a direct link to the organizers and community groups. And you could meet once a month. And it was also a community of learning. They can share what was working in each neighborhood and those individuals because they trusted me, would then be able to provide me information on crimes that were happening or give me information that may lead to the closure of some type of crime, something that was happening across a neighborhood.

 


[00:24:36.170] - Ivonne Roman 

And it was very successful. I had one specific lady that was a gold mine and the information she was giving me so much so that I wanted to compensate her for it. And she refused to sign on because she said, I'm doing it so my grandkids can play outside safely. Right. I don't want anything in return. I just want us to be. And I think that the success I had was because I built at having that relationship with my residents. They all had my phone number.

 


[00:25:00.760] - Ivonne Roman 

The leaders, right. Because you get crazy. If you hand out your number to everyone, I would have people instead of calling 911, they would call me, right. And I'm in the shower and I come out and they're like, someone's been stabbed. I'm listening to the message. I'm like, Why would you leave me a voicemail?

 


[00:25:15.130] - Steve Morreale

Yes. Isn't that crazy? Well, and that's what happens because when they find that somebody cares on the other end, you become the conduit for the police Department. 911, which is crazy. Are you working on continuing your education?

 


[00:25:26.550] - Ivonne Roman 

I am. I'm taking my classes at Rutgers. I actually just finished my classes in the spring. The next will be the comprehensive exam. I'm at Rutgers, and I'm earning a PhD from the Public Affairs and Community Development Program.

 


[00:25:40.520] - Steve Morreale

That's terrific. So dissertation is coming. What are you thinking of?

 


[00:25:44.230] - Ivonne Roman 

It's funny, because I tell people it seems like this was what I always did advocate for women in policing. But as I explained, it was a personnel issue that I got involved in, and it kind of just took off. I got a TED talk. We started the 30 by 30 initiative, so it seems it might be on women and policing, since I already have about 30 interviews with IRB approval. But I'm also interested in the coproduction of public safety. How do you engage with communities in order to produce that public safety in a manner that doesn't strengthen relationships?

 

 

 


[00:26:13.610] - Ivonne Roman 

Hence why I'm in the Public Affairs and Community Development program because a lot of people assume I would be in criminal justice, but it's more about less of the hammer and more about getting cooperation in these policies and strategies so that we can have the collaboration instead of these constant strain relationships that we're seeing across America.

 


[00:26:31.960] - Steve Morreale

So are you in Camden, Newark?

 


[00:26:33.730] - Ivonne Roman 

Camden.

 


[00:26:33.730] - Steve Morreale

Okay. It's a Camden campus. Okay, good. Just curious about that as we wind down. Another thing I would ask is the whole issue of mental health, both inside the Department. In other words, taking care of wellness based on what police are called on to see, and it's hard to unsee, as you well know, but also co response. Are you an advocate of co-response so that police and clinicians are sometimes arriving at a scene where there may be a mental health crisis?

 


[00:26:58.710] - Ivonne Roman 

I would like to see that studied where we deploy it across the United States and different police departments and establish some case studies, maybe some randomized controlled trials to ensure that it works and reason being when I was a police officer, those were one of the most stressful jobs that I would go on because EMS would not respond until the police officers were on the scene. Police officers arrived and EMS is backed up for two or 3 hours. And now you're babysitting this individual. If you took this individual into the hospital, they would say, unless they're a threat to themselves or someone else, there's nothing I can do about this.

 


[00:27:31.780] - Ivonne Roman 

And so there's really no safety net for individuals that are suffering mental illness. I do think that that would be a better response than what we have now just sending the police.

 


[00:27:41.610] - Steve Morreale

Great. So let me wind down with a couple of other questions for you. What books are you reading, knowing that you've been involved in coursework. But what books do you read to try to have a better understanding of a more global perspective beyond policing.

 


[00:27:54.400] - Ivonne Roman 

I've actually read a lot of books on community development because that's my program that I'm in a lot of social justice books. I think policing doesn't have a deep understanding of how urban cities became poor and then gentrified. They don't understand systemic racism and discrimination. So a lot of cops take that and internalize it and say, you're calling me racist, but we're absolutely not calling the individual officer racist. But you have to acknowledge the history that we've had in America that did redline certain cities that did deny loans to individuals that did segregate people into communities.

 


[00:28:31.160] - Ivonne Roman 

You have schools that kids couldn't go to, and this led to generational wealth in one neighborhood and poverty in another one. And understanding that makes the police officer understand that this isn't me that they're angry at and isn't me producing disparities. But I have to understand the role that policing played in that.

 


[00:28:48.800] - Steve Morreale

We talked to Bill Bratton last week and one of the things that he was really harping on, and I really caused me pause. And it sounds like you're saying the same thing. Why is it that we are not as police departments talking about the history of our cities and the history of our police departments and the interconnectedness of that? And I think that would be very valuable town that I'm from Waltham, Massachusetts, was on a waterway, and so so many people came and came because that's where work was.

 


[00:29:13.710] - Ivonne Roman 

Newark had its reason for drawing people right, rather than New York City, the Pulaski Bridge and all of those kinds of things. But imagine if we could help our officers and probably not in the Academy because it's specific to Newark or it's specific to Boston. It's specific to San Francisco. But our Department having some way to talk to people about what the history is, what their grandparents and great grandparents would think about policing because of the way they were treated or mistreated what's your thought.

 


[00:29:46.150] - Ivonne Roman 

So I think you hit it right on the head. After Ferguson, I was getting a master's degree, and we had an assignment to look at policies and their impact. And what I did was look at the policies of Ferguson before the city turned from a majority white city to a majority black city. And what happened there was restricted housing covenants. So Ferguson was an older city that still allowed apartment buildings all around them. The covenants require that you have one family homes, so people with less means that needed to rent apartments.

 


[00:30:18.890] - Ivonne Roman 

And they wanted to get out of St. Louis, wound up in Ferguson as they wound up in Ferguson, the people with money left and had their kids go to private schools, and the government remained white. But the population became black. And as taxpayers dried up, they began generating revenue by finding and arresting the population. So you just look at the policy decisions. And you see how the killing of Michael Brown was that match that was thrown onto this tinderbox that had been created by generations of poor policies of racial policies.

 


[00:30:57.610] - Steve Morreale

Very interesting. Pretty deep. So the last question I would ask you, if you had an opportunity to talk with somebody that are alive that has some notoriety that you have watched, maybe from afar or read about, who would you sit down and want to pick their brain?

 


[00:31:17.890] - Ivonne Roman 

So she just died. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Actually, she passed the first decision that said that women had to have access to police academies in a manner that gave them the same benefits as men. So that was the Virginia Military Institute. I believe the VMI. And she said that it wasn't enough that they were provided access if it was separate because they didn't have the same instructors, they didn't have the same experience. They didn't have the opportunities to network. And a lot of that is what keeps women from sending the ranks.

 


[00:31:55.790] - Ivonne Roman 

You have to be able to network. Someone has to be able to advocate for you and know your name. And if you're not given those same opportunities, then we are going to remain at 12% women and only 3% Chiefs. We have to have the same access to training and to assignments. And so she was the first decision that came out. And then she had this history of a very progressive ideology. But then in her decisions to be able to articulate why this is necessary in a manner that if you're rationally, logically thinking it out right.

 


[00:32:31.450] - Ivonne Roman 

It has to make sense to you. Right. Well, I'm being optimistic that it makes sense. But really, she was from Rutgers, and she really was a legal master. And I would love to pick her brain on different issues.

 


[00:32:46.440] - Steve Morreale

That's a great way to end. Well, I wish you the best of luck in finishing your degree so that I can officially call you Dr. Roman, but more importantly, with your 30 by 30. I t sounds to me like you are pretty active with evidence-based policing, and probably you're a member of the society, the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing. I presume.

 


[00:33:08.010] - Ivonne Roman 

Yes, I'm on the board and we just had our conference, and it was smaller than other ones because of Covid. But it really was so invigorating to be among our peers after such a long hiatus, we had to cancel our last conference, and I recommend that those that are interested in evidence-based policing consider joining it's a network of cops and academics. And you can pick each other's brain like we were just talking about me wishing I could talk to RBG. But you can talk about how you implement evidence-based policing, how to get buy in it really is a great community.

 


[00:33:44.270] - Steve Morreale

Terrific. Well, thank you. We've been talking to Yvonne Robin in New Jersey, and she is the former chief of the Newark Police Department and now a doctoral candidate at Rutgers for a PhD. I appreciate everything you've told us and we'll continue to talk about this 30 by 30 program. Ivonne, thank you so much for your time and energy.

 


[00:34:05.830] - Ivonne Roman 

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Take care.

 


[00:34:13.610] - Steve Morreale

Thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only from the US but from across the globe. It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me by email the copdoc,podcast@gmail.com. Please take the time to share a podcast with your friend.

 


[00:34:42.760] - Steve Morreale

If you find value in the discussion. We've had so many amazing guests and more to come who have shared their wisdom, their thoughts, their viewpoints, and their innovative ideas. Most importantly, a huge thank you to those of you who show up for work in policing every day, not knowing the kinds of calls that you'll be sent on, the kinds of situations you'll find yourself in. You risk your lives for people and for that we owe you a debt of gratitude. A big thanks. Hope you stay safe, healthy, and look forward to hearing from you and hope you'll continue to listen to upcoming episodes of the Cop Doc podcast.

 

 


[00:35:14.090] - Outro

Thanks for listening to The Cop Doc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune in to The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.