After over a decade of advocacy on the issue, the ACLU of New Jersey today testified before the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee to urge lawmakers to strengthen the proposed licensure scheme for law enforcement officers in New Jersey. The bill, A4194, is sponsored by Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, William Spearman, and Benjie Wimberly and 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 permanently removing dangerous officers nearly impossible.
As currently written, the bill does not require the licensing scheme to utilize the National Decertification Index, which is the best way to prevent an officer who had their license revoked in New Jersey from working for another department upon relocating to another state.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Policy Counsel Joe Johnson:
“Requiring law enforcement to be licensed in New Jersey brings us closer to a reality where officers can no longer engage in misconduct with impunity. Having a system in place that requires accountability and continued training for an officer to hold a valid license is an important step toward rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We thank Assemblymembers Reynolds-Jackson, Spearman, and Wimberly for sponsoring this bill and welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers to ensure the licensure program is as comprehensive as possible.”