NJ seeks better accountability and training for cops, prosecutors
As part of an effort to create uniformity in law enforcement practices, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has unveiled an Excellence in Policing initiative for the 36,000 law enforcement officers in the Garden State.
The initiative includes eight directives and letters dealing with policing and criminal justice.
“The common threat throughout all of these directives and policies is we’re trying to promote professionalism, accountability and transparency in law enforcement operations in this state," he said.
One directive focuses on the use of force by police. The policy aims for independent investigations of police-involved shootings and deaths in custody. The state's new use-of-force portal will be tried out in six towns: Bridgeton, Dover, Linden, Millville, Paterson and South Brunswick. The volunteer departments will use the system to compile use-of-force data and publish it for the public.
Grewal said the directive gives all officers “the direction they need on how these investigations should be handled. They’re among the most sensitive that we handle and the public also at the same time needs to know how we investigate these cases.”
Another directive focuses on internal affairs, which investigates misconduct within a department or agency.
“We’ve had a lot of reach-out from law enforcement executives about how internal affairs is handled, and we thought it was important to take that input to figure out how we can improve accountability through improving our internal affairs guidelines," Grewal said.
He said other policies cover improving law enforcement training.
The initiative also includes directives on handling evidence and how to improve identifying at-risk officers by transitioning from “early warning systems” to more comprehensive “early intervention systems.”
Also in the policies:
• Requiring all county prosecutors establish policies and procedures for timely disclosure of exculpatory evidence.
• Enhancing oversight of municipal prosecutors.
• Formally codifying the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability and establishing an Office of Policing Policy to oversee implementation of the Excellence in Policing initiative.