Why New Jersey Must Pass A3441/S1551

What Civilian Complaint Review Boards Do and Why They Matter

A3441/S1551 will give communities throughout the state the authority to put in place strong community boards to review the policies, practices, and actions of local police departments and officers.

To be effective, civilian complaint review boards (CCRBs), made up of community members, must have the legal authority to oversee law enforcement agencies and the power to:

  • Conduct independent and concurrent investigations of wrongdoing by officers
  • Issue subpoenas
  • Make recommendations that stick for discipline when officers are accused of misconduct

Bringing the National Model of Newark’s CCRB to Other Communities in New Jersey

Newark’s CCRB has stood as a national model since its creation in 2015 for providing the most comprehensive, meaningful checks on law enforcement. Unfortunately, a court challenge brought by the police lobby stripped some of the board’s powers that are fundamental to functional civilian complaint review boards. 

The New Jersey Supreme Court recognized the essential value of community oversight, but ruled that legislation was needed for communities to have all the tools necessary to provide it. That’s why we must pass A3441/S1551 into law.

A3441/S1551 empowers all municipalities across the state to create civilian oversight bodies of their own with meaningful oversight authority.

A3441/S1551 Protects Essential CCRB Powers by Law

A3441/S1551 will allow any municipality or county to create a CCRB with the following powers:

  • Subpoena power, including subpoenas of witnesses and documentary evidence.
  • The power to hold simultaneous investigations to ensure that police internal affairs investigations do not prevent CCRBs from investigating.
  • Community representation, with CCRB membership comprised of qualified community representatives chosen by community and civic organizations.
  • Meaningful disciplinary power, to recommend accountability measures for officer misconduct.