ASSEMBLY, No. 4558

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  SHANIQUE SPEIGHT

District 29 (Essex)

Assemblywoman  VERLINA REYNOLDS-JACKSON

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Spearman

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires police misconduct training course be included in police basic training curriculum.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning basic training for police officers, supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes, and amending P.L.1961, c.56.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  The Legislature find and declares:

     (1)   The highest priority of New Jersey’s law enforcement officers is to safeguard the life, dignity, and liberty of all persons, without prejudice toward anyone.

     (2)   Law enforcement officers shall be guided by the principle of reverence for human life in all investigative, enforcement, and other contacts between officers and members of the public.

     (3)   Law enforcement officers have a moral, ethical, and constitutional obligation to protect and serve the citizens of this State, regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual and gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, and religious beliefs.

     (3)   The injury and death of unarmed African American men and women, and other people of color, due to police brutality and excessive use of force violates a law enforcement officer’s most basic obligation towards the citizens of this State.

     (4)   Not only have the communities of the victims of police misconduct suffered, but these incidents continue to inflict intergenerational harm and trauma to families. 

     (5)   Police misconduct has sparked protests in all 50 states and many countries around the world.

     (6)   Far too many individuals have sustained severe injury or died as a result of the illegal actions and mistakes of law enforcement officers.

     (7)   On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a 43 year-old African American man, died as a result of an illegal chokehold administered by a law enforcement officer attempting to arrest Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes.

     (8)   On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., a 25 year-old African American man, died as a result of severe spinal cord injuries sustained while being transported without a seatbelt in a police van after being wrongfully arrested for the legal possession of a knife.

     (9)   On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26 year-old African American woman, was shot to death in her sleep by police when they raided her home.

     (10) On May 23, 2020, Maurice Gordon, a 28 year-old unarmed African American man, was killed in New Jersey after being pulled over for allegedly speeding.

     (11) On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46 year-old unarmed African American man, died after being pinned down by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota; his alleged offense was using a counterfeit $20 bill.

     (12) On June 19, 2022, Randy Cox, a 36 year-old African American man, was partially paralyzed as a result of injuries sustained while being transported without a seat belt in the back of a police van.

     (13) In addition, many any other lives have been negatively impacted or cut short as a result of police misconduct. 

     (14) The purpose of this act is to educate law enforcement officers regarding the dangers and consequences of improper or illegal police practices by modifying the basic training curriculum to instruct recruits on police misconduct using real life examples and case studies to educate recruits regarding these tragic events and their impact on victims, families, communities, and law enforcement practices nationwide.

     b.    The Police Training Commission shall include in the basic training course curriculum a modified police misconduct training course developed or identified pursuant to subsection c. of this section.

     c.     The Police Training Commission shall develop or identify course materials concerning misconduct in policing.  The Police Training Commission shall include these course materials in the basic training course curriculum for law enforcement officers.  Successful completion of the police misconduct training course shall provide a law enforcement officer with a total of three credits towards the total credit requirement of the basic training curriculum.  The police misconduct training course shall include, but not be limited to, the following subjects:

     (1)   analysis and discussion of real life examples of the injury or death of unarmed African American men and women, and other people of color, due to police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement and how those tragic events could have been avoided;

     (2)   policing in the age of smartphones, including how smartphones have aided citizens in proving instances of police misconduct, resulting in law enforcement officers and police departments increasingly being held accountable for misconduct;

     (3)   a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene when witnessing law enforcement misconduct, even if the misconduct is being perpetrated by a superior officer, and using the murder of George Floyd as a case study;

     (4)   the consequences of poor policing, using the murder of Breonna Taylor as a case study to illustrate how mistakes may erode trust in the community and result in civil unrest, which impacts law enforcement practices nationwide;

     (5)   understanding the impact of bias in policing and the impact bias had in the murder of George Floyd; and

     (6)   how law enforcement officers should prepare for and cope with civil unrest and protests resulting from police misconduct.

 

     2.    Section 6 of P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-71) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    The commission shall establish requisite standards for the training of law enforcement officers and oversee the implementation of those standards.

     The commission shall have the authority:

     a.     To prescribe standards for the approval and continuation of approval of schools at which police training courses authorized by this act and in-service police training courses shall be conducted, including but not limited to currently existing regional, county, municipal, and police chief association police training schools or at which basic training courses and in-service training courses shall be conducted for State and county juvenile and adult correctional police officers and juvenile detention officers;

     b.    To approve and issue certificates of approval to these schools, to inspect the schools from time to time, and to revoke any approval or certificate issued to the schools;

     c.     To prescribe the curriculum, the minimum courses of study, attendance requirements, equipment and facilities, and standards of operation for these schools and prescribe psychological and psychiatric examinations for police recruits;

     d.    To prescribe minimum qualifications for instructors at these schools and to certify, as qualified, instructors for approved police training schools and to issue appropriate certificates to the instructors; instructors of the police misconduct training course shall hold an advanced degree in sociology, or another related field, from an accredited college or university;

     e.     To certify law enforcement officers who have satisfactorily completed training programs and to issue appropriate certificates to the officers;

     f.     To advise and consent in the appointment of an administrator of police services by the Attorney General pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-73);

     g.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1985, c.491)

     h.    To make rules and regulations as may be reasonably necessary or appropriate to accomplish the purposes and objectives of this act;

     i.     To make a continuous study of police training methods and training methods for law enforcement officers and to consult and accept the cooperation of any recognized federal or State law enforcement agency or educational institution;

     j.     To consult and cooperate with universities, colleges, and institutes in the State for the development of specialized courses of study for law enforcement officers in police science [and] , police administration , and police misconduct;

     k.    To consult and cooperate with other departments and agencies of the State concerned with police training or the training of law enforcement officers;

     l.     To participate in unified programs and projects relating to police training and the training of law enforcement officers sponsored by any federal, State, or other public or private agency;

     m.   To perform other acts as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out its functions and duties as set forth in this act;

     n.    To extend the time limit for satisfactory completion of police training programs or programs for the training of law enforcement officers upon a finding that health, extraordinary workload, or other factors have, singly or in combination, effected a delay in the satisfactory completion of the training program;

     o.  (1)  To furnish approved schools, for inclusion in their regular police training courses and curriculum, with information concerning the advisability of high-speed chases, the risk caused by them, and the benefits resulting from them, and to include any other relevant police training courses that will assist the commission in providing efficient training;

     (2)  To consult the New Jersey State Police with respect to its administration of police training courses or programs for the training of law enforcement officers to be certified as a Drug Recognition Expert for detecting, identifying, and apprehending drug-impaired motor vehicle operators, and to consult with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission established by 31 of P.L.2019, c.153 (C.24:6I-24) with respect to any aspects of the course curricula that focus on impairment from the use of cannabis items as defined by section 3 of P.L.2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-33) or marijuana.

     p.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2022, c.65)

     q.    To administer and distribute the monies in the Law Enforcement Officers Training and Equipment Fund established by section 9 of P.L.1996, c.115 (C.2C:43-3.3) and make rules and regulations for the administration and distribution of the monies as may be necessary or appropriate to accomplish the purpose for which the fund was established.

(cf: P.L.2022, c.65, s.8)

 

     3.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the six month next following enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the Police Training Commission to develop or identify course materials concerning police misconduct to be included in the police basic training curriculum.

     The highest priority of New Jersey’s law enforcement officers is to safeguard the life, dignity, and liberty of all persons, without prejudice toward anyone.  Law enforcement officers are required to be guided by the principle of reverence for human life in all investigative, enforcement, and other contacts between officers and members of the public.  Law enforcement officers have a moral, ethical, and constitutional obligation to protect and serve the citizens of this State, regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual and gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, and religious beliefs.

     The injury and death of unarmed African American men and women, and other people of color, due to police brutality and excessive use of force violates a law enforcement officer’s most basic obligation towards the citizens of this State.  Not only have the communities of the victims of police misconduct suffered, but these incidents continue to inflict intergenerational harm and trauma to families.  Police misconduct has sparked protests in all 50 states and many countries around the world.  Far too many individuals have sustained severe injury or died as a result of the illegal actions and mistakes of law enforcement officers.

     The purpose of this bill is to educate law enforcement officers regarding the dangers and consequences of improper or illegal police practices by modifying the basic training curriculum to instruct recruits on police misconduct using real life examples and case studies to instruct recruits regarding these tragic events and the impact these events have had on victims, families, communities, and law enforcement practices nationwide.

     Under the bill, the Police Training Commission is to develop or identify course materials concerning misconduct in policing to be taught by an instructor with an advanced degree in sociology, or another related field, and included in the basic training course for police officers.  The police misconduct training course is to provide three credits towards the total credit requirement of the police basic training curriculum. 

     The police misconduct training course is required to include, but not be limited to the following subjects: (1) analysis and discussion of real life examples of the injury or death of unarmed African American men and women, and other people of color, due to police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement and how those tragic events could have been avoided; (2) policing in the age of smartphones, including how smartphones have aided citizens in proving instances of police misconduct, resulting in law enforcement officers and police departments increasingly being held accountable for misconduct; (3) a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene when witnessing law enforcement misconduct, even if the misconduct is being perpetrated by a superior officer, and using the murder of George Floyd as a case study; (4) the consequences of poor policing, using the murder of Breonna Taylor as a case study to illustrate how mistakes may erode trust in the community and result in civil unrest, which impacts law enforcement practices nationwide; (5) understanding the impact of bias in policing and the impact bias had in the murder of George Floyd; and (6) how law enforcement officers should prepare for and cope with civil unrest and protests resulting from police misconduct.