ACLU-NJ Announces Formation of New Jersey Communities for Accountable Policing, a Statewide Grassroots Coalition

October 28, 2021

The ACLU of New Jersey has announced the formation of a statewide grassroots coalition, New Jersey Communities for Accountable Policing (NJ-CAP). NJ-CAP’s mission is to stop excessive police power, end the tight grip of police in communities of color, and organize New Jerseyans to bring about change.  

“As protests calling for accountability in policing swept across the country in 2020, New Jersey was no exception. Though Covid-19 has made it difficult for folks to gather in historic numbers since, the movement to place power in our communities has only continued to grow. Forming NJ-CAP means advocacy groups and community leaders from across the state can work together in coordinated, meaningful ways to make reimagining public safety a reality in policy and in practice,” said Sarah Fajardo, Policy Director at ACLU-NJ. 

NJ-CAP is made up of grassroots activists, racial and social justice advocates, people harmed by law enforcement, faith leaders, and legal experts united in the belief that the racial injustices in law enforcement and the criminal legal system are morally unacceptable.   

“An important first step to holding law enforcement officers accountable is making sure New Jerseyans have access to police records – including disciplinary files. For communities to hold the power that they should, they must be able to remove the veil of secrecy that has kept vital information about officer conduct hidden for too long. An overdue shift of power begins with public access to law enforcement records – the Legislature can do just that by passing A5301/S2656, which will bring New Jersey in line with other states,” said CJ Griffin, police transparency attorney. 

With members of the Legislature set to return following the election in November, NJ-CAP will continue to call for the passing of a slate of bills up that would begin to reimagine policing in New Jersey: 

  • A5301/S2656: Makes police disciplinary records public   
  • A4656/S2963: Protects essential Civilian Complaint Review Board powers by law   
  • A4578/S3730: Ends qualified immunity  
  • A4284/S2617: Criminalizes chokeholds   
  • A4526/S3825: Limits the use of deadly force

“Building power in our communities means building foundations for community oversight of law enforcement. But for Civilian Complaint Review Boards to have the impact the public deserves, their essential powers must be written into and protected by law. Passing A4656/S2963 would allow every town across the state to establish strong CCRBs of their own, complete with necessary subpoena power,” said Zayid Muhammad, organizer at Newark Communities for Accountable Policing. 

"The worst abuses of our law enforcement system continue to be sanctioned by qualified immunity, denying victims of misconduct the right to fair compensation in court. We urge New Jersey’s legislators to correct this drastic imbalance of justice and pass A4578/S3730 so everyday citizens will regain the power to hold police officers accountable. As we build a new public safety system, the removal of qualified immunity will establish a strong foundation where the God-given rights of the people are honored and police officers are not allowed to operate above the law," said Rev. Barry E. Wise II, of Greater Mount Moriah Baptist Church and board member of Faith in New Jersey.   

To read more about NJ-CAP’s mission and legislative priorities, visit: https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/8816/3536/4701/NJ-CAP_One-Pager_-_FINAL.pdf  

The founding organizations of NJ-CAP include the ACLU of New Jersey, Antiracism in Action, Black Community Watchline, Black Lives Matter NJ, Black Lives Matter Paterson, Faith in New Jersey, Innocence Project, Integrated Justice Alliance, Ironbound Community Corporation, Latino Action Network, League of Women Voters New Jersey, Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey State Conference NAACP, Newark Branch NAACP, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Prison Justice Watch, Office of the Public Defender, Our Revolution – Trenton Mercer, Our Revolution New Jersey, People’s Organization for Progress, Salvation and Social Justice, Southern Burlington County NJ NAACP, and 32 BJ SEIU.   

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