New Jersey AG Says State Will Update Its Use-Of-Force Guidelines And Add New Licensing Program For Police Officers

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Alec Schemmel Contributor
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New Jersey will update their use-of-force guidelines for police and will eventually add a statewide licensing program for all officers amid the death of George Floyd.

“To the thousands of New Jerseyans who assembled peacefully this week, let me be clear, we hear you, we see you, we respect you,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal during a press conference on Tuesday alongside Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. “We share your anger and we share your commitment to change. And at the Attorney General’s office we’ve been hard at work to make that change a reality.

Grewal laid out several steps being taken by the state that will be used to accomplish that change.

First was the excellence in policing initiative, which was launched in December and is meant to implement “sweeping reforms” that promote the culture of professionalism, accountability and transparency. He mentioned the launch of a new pilot program within that initiative designed to expand crisis intervention training. (RELATED: ‘Act This Month’ — Joe Biden Calls On Congress To Fast-Track Police Reform Bill For Trump To Sign Into Law)

“This best-in-class training is one of the most effective ways to reduce use-of-force incidents,” he said. Pilot programs will be launched in four locations, and the State House, to study the feasibility of implementing it statewide.

Next, was a plan to develop a statewide licensing program for police officers. “I asked the police training commission (PTC) to study whether a licensing program made sense for New Jersey.” Grewal said during the press conference.

“We must ensure that those who cannot meet this standard can’t work in New Jersey,” Grewal said. The details of the plan’s implementation will be worked out in the months ahead.

New Jersey will also expand their statewide use-of-force database, which will be implemented by July 1, Grewal said, so they can effectively track the use of force by officers across the state.

“A lot has changed in policing over the last 20 years,” said Grewal. “We’ll be consulting with a wide range of stakeholders, including civil rights leaders, police unions, religious leaders, victims advocates and community members to ensure that our policy reflects the values of New Jersey today.” He also said they will be drawing on data collected through their new use-of-force database and the guidelines will be implemented no later than the end of this year.

New Jersey intends to also build an incident response team built up of community relations specialists, which can deploy to local jurisdictions following major civil rights incidents.

“There’s only one way to build trust between law enforcement and the community,” said Grewal, “that’s by working at it day-after-day, year-after-year, in church basements and school gymnasiums, during good times and bad.” (RELATED: At Least Five Police Officers Reportedly Shot, One On Life Support As Rioters And Law Enforcement Battle Across The Country)