Urban News Staff Reports
In response to national protests calling for an end to racial discrimination and police brutality, the Senate approved a package of bills today to create more equitable policing and reduce racial bias in law enforcement.
“For far too long we have seen the spark of action after a police killing die down before meaningful change occurs, but not anymore,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “There is still much work to be done but I am confident we will get this legislation, and more, across the finish line this session. The stakes are too high to wait any longer and the sustained protests around the country have made it clear that the time for change is now.”
“New Jersey is not only one of the most densely populated states in the country, we are also one of the most diverse. Forty-five percent of our residents are people of color and this collection of cultures is one of our state’s greatest strengths and attributes,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We must continue to strengthen the cultural diversity and implicit bias training and education provided to our law enforcement officers to ensure they can best serve our diverse communities.”
“The incident we saw in Central Park earlier this May, when a white woman called 9-1-1 on a Black man who calmly asked her to leash her dog, underscores the danger presented to Black and brown individuals when the police are weaponized against them,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Not only are false 9-1-1 calls a waste of resources, but when they are used to harass or intimate someone based on their race, religion, sexuality, or other protected classes, they risk escalating it into a deadly situation.”
“These efforts send a clear message that the Legislature stands with New Jersey’s Black community,” said Senator Kean (D-Morris/Somerset/Union). “We hear you, and we understand that the time for change is now. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to work with all of my constituents and local law enforcement on solutions to restore trust, build hope, and drive equality in our communities.”
The committee approved the following bills:
S.401 – Sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, the bill would require law enforcement agencies in the State to establish minority recruitment and selection programs. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-1.
S.415 – Sponsored by Senator Turner, the bill would require the Division of Parole to offer parole services to certain defendants who have served their maximum sentence. Currently, parole services are only offered to those released on parole. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 32-6.
S.419 – Sponsored by Senator Turner and Senator Linda Greenstein, the bill would require law enforcement agencies to provide law enforcement officers with cultural diversity training and develop a diversity action plan. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-0.
S.2635/2578 – Sponsored by Senator Nia Gill, Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Turner, the bill would include false incrimination and filing false police reports as a form of bias intimidation. It would also establish making false 9-1-1 calls with the purpose to intimidate or harass based on race or other protected class as a crime. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 40-0.
S.2638 – Sponsored by Senator Tom Kean and Senator Gill, the bill would require the Attorney General to collect, record and report certain prosecutorial and criminal justice data. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 40-0.
S.2689 – Sponsored by Senator Greenstein, the bill would require the Department of Law and Public Safety to incorporate implicit bias in cultural diversity training materials for law enforcement officers. Under the bill, cultural diversity and implicit bias training would be mandatory for all law enforcement officers. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-0.