Changes to Standards for Investigations of Police in New Jersey

Due to recent investigations by news organizations into gaps in oversight of police use of force and conduct, new standards will be put in place to monitor police behavior. New Jersey’s attorney general announced that there will be a public database that will track police use of force rates, increase public access to videos of police encounters, and require prosecutors to provide evidence, including incriminating evidence surrounding the credibility of the cops involved, to the accused.

Portal Tracking Police Use of Force

According to the attorney general, the new initiatives will target six New Jersey police departments in a pilot program to report all police use of force incidents to an online portal. The attorney general’s goal is to increase accountability, public trust, and transparency of the police departments. Under this program, Bridgeton, Dover, Linden, Millville, Paterson, and South Brunswick police departments were selected based on the demographics that represented a cross-section of New Jersey’s various police departments, according to the attorney general.

Improve Training and Consider Licensing of Police Officers

The attorney general directed a Police Training Commission (PTC) to devise a proposal for whether the state should be licensing police officers. New Jersey is one of few states in the nation that does not require licensure of police, even though they are authorized to carry weapons and use deadly force. The attorney general also required the PTC to study and draft a proposal to improve police training and revisions to recruiting standards.

Standardize Prosecutor Practices

The attorney general also issued a directive to all county prosecutors to standardize practices on evidence gathering, as well as a policy guidance to provide impeachable evidence and inconsistent statements by witnesses to defendants that may be helpful to the defendant’s case, even if it may undermine a state’s witness credibility and exculpate the defendant.

Prevent Bad Cops from Seeking New Jobs

The new standards require a police officer’s secret internal affairs files to be transferred to any new department that the officer applies to. Additionally, the policy discourages non-disclosure agreements to keep documents hidden. These initiatives are aimed to prevent cops with a record of disciplinary issues from job-hopping.

Release of Videos

The attorney general has also authorized the release of videos from police body cameras, dash cameras, surveillance videos, and smartphone videos when a citizen has been killed or seriously injured in response to public requests. These new initiatives will track use of force incidents in the state and prevent police officers from continuing to abuse their power.

For legal advice and representation on police and law enforcement agency claims, contact the civil rights defense attorneys at MacMain Leinhauser. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we provide counsel to residents of Chester County and Philadelphia.