Today begins a new chapter for police transparency and accountability in New Jersey. Going forward, every police department in New Jersey will be required to annually publish the names of officers who were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days. By lifting the cloak of secrecy over our state’s police disciplinary process, we are not simply ensuring accountability for those who engage in misconduct; we are also demonstrating that the vast majority of law enforcement officers work hard and play by the rules.
Today’s decision also provides useful guidance on our efforts to address historical instances of officer misconduct within the Department of Law & Public Safety. I still hope to move forward with the commitment I made last year: to publish the names of officers who work for our Department – in the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the Juvenile Justice Commission – who were disciplined for serious misconduct at any point in the past two decades. The Court’s opinion includes helpful language about the process we must undertake before releasing that information.
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The push for transparency does not end with today’s ruling. The Court made clear that the Attorney General possesses broad authority to authorize the disclosure of police disciplinary records on a prospective basis and I am exploring additional steps that we can take to promote public trust. In addition, I welcome the opportunity to work with a broad range of stakeholder to develop legislative solutions that promote accountability and transparency. More can and must be done as we work to make New Jersey a national leader in policing reform.
To learn more about our policing reform efforts, visit njoag.gov/policing.