TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy is hailing a new directive that requires hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state to reveal the names of cops who have been reprimanded or fired as “a step forward for transparency.”
The order from Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office will require all state, county and local law enforcement agencies to release, at least on an annual basis, the identities of officers who have been terminated, demoted or suspended for more than five days.
Law enforcement agencies will be required to publish their annual list no later than Dec. 31, 2020
Monday’s directive comes on the heels of a June 5th order prohibiting all New Jersey law enforcement agencies from using chokeholds “except in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”
“This is a tremendous step forward for transparency,” Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 news conference Monday. “This is a step forward for law enforcement, as well, to help generate great faith among the communities in which our officers serve that no one will get away with committing serious disciplinary violations and this builds on the attorney general’s previous work to change the culture of policing across our state, including his directive 10 days ago banning the use of chokeholds in all but the most limited situations.”
Until now, the identities of officers subject to discipline have generally not been disclosed to the public unless they have faced criminal charges. Local police departments often refused to divulge the officers’ identities by referring to it as a “personnel matter.”
Today’s directive also gives law enforcement agencies the option to identify officers who have committed serious disciplinary violations in the past. For instance, Grewal, in conjunction with Col. Pat Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced that they will publish a list of all state troopers who have committed major disciplinary violations over the past 20 years.
That list will be released publicly by July 15.
“For decades, New Jersey has not disclosed the identities of law enforcement officers who commit serious disciplinary violations,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement.”
“We cannot build trust with the public unless we’re candid about the shortcomings of our own officers,” said Colonel Callahan. “By releasing the names of State Troopers who committed serious disciplinary violations, we are continuing the long, hard work of earning and maintaining the trust of the communities we serve.
Today’s directive comes after a weekend in which 50 or so peaceful protests were held across New Jersey in response to George Floyd’s death. Floyd’s death after he was pinned to the ground under a white cop’s knee for almost 9 minutes in Minneapolis has also ignited calls to end police brutality at rallies from Newark to New York to Nashville and beyond.
“This is good for everybody in particular with an emphasis on building even deepening and further trust,” Murphy said. “In the absence of information in life, not just in this instance, in the absence of information in life you assume the worst. With information you get a much sense clearer sense of the reality and I think that’s good for everybody.”
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