After nearly 20 years of advocacy on the issue, the ACLU of New Jersey today praised the signing of legislation to create a licensure scheme for law enforcement officers in New Jersey. The bill, A4194/S2742, appropriates $6 million to establish a licensure program requiring that a person holds a valid, active license to be employed as a law enforcement officer in New Jersey. Without licensing in place, officers removed from duty due to misconduct can still be employed by a different police department, making removing dangerous officers from the force permanently nearly impossible.
A4194/S2742 is primarily sponsored by Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, William Spearman, and Benjie Wimberly and Senators Linda Greenstein and Troy Singleton.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha:
“The ACLU-NJ and our advocacy partners have been calling for police licensing for years, and we’re proud that we’re finally able to see it come to fruition. The bill Governor Murphy signed is strong: both the bill’s sponsors and the administration took a promising draft and improved it by mandating reporting to the National Decertification Index. We intend to continue working with the Attorney General and stakeholders to ensure that this new licensing scheme provides necessary accountability and transparency for all New Jerseyans as well as ensures due process and fairness mechanisms for members of law enforcement.
“But there is much more that remains to be done. New Jersey belatedly joins the more than 40 other states in having a licensing scheme for police officers. We must now do the hard work of delivering meaningful measures of accountability such as police discipline transparency, civilian complaint review boards with subpoena power, and ending qualified immunity. We cannot – and should not – aspire to merely catch up with states like Alabama and Florida – instead we must lead on issues of police accountability to create a fairer and more just New Jersey for all.”