New Jersey

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Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated Jan. 20, 2020

Summary

Key:

Legislation Achieved

Some Progress

No Progress

  • Demilitarization

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    No knock warrants
    1033 program
    Military-style training
    SWAT data

    New Jersey a

  • For Profit Policing

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Civil asset forfeiture
    Quotas
    Cost of misconduct

    New Jersey b

  • Broken Windows Policing

    Minor offenses
    Objective justification for stops
    Reporting stop details

    New Jersey c

  • Accountability

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Reckless civil rights violation
    Independent investigation
    Qualified immunity

    New Jersey d

  • Reinvesting in Communities

    Mental health response

    Education, housing, and community health resources

    New Jersey e

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. While New Jersey did institute increased scrutiny on no-knock warrant requests in 2001, they have yet to impose any increased restrictions on their use in law enforcement. The state does not track requests for these warrants as of 2020.

Pending Legislation: In June, 2020, Rep. Wimbley introduced A4268 in the NJ General Assembly calling for the banning of no-knock warrants.

1033 purchases

Some Progress:

In 2015, New Jersey passed a law requiring local governmental approval for police requests for military equipment through the DoD's 1033 program. While this ordinance does not prohibit participation in the program, it guarantees a level of oversight over these requests the state previously lacked.

Military style training

Some Progress:

In December 2020, AG Gubir Grewal (D) significantly revised NJ's use-of-force policies to require de-escalation whenever possible, institute a duty-to-intervene policy, and expand consequences for violating any of these policies. Though these measures don't explicitly address the militant mentality of police officers, they are a step in the right direction.

SWAT data

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use. The State's 2019 Excellence in Policing Initiative recommended increased requirements for cataloging and analyzing incidents of the use of force, including the deployment of SWAT teams. However, these goals have not been codified through legislation.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

Some Progress:

As of January 2020, prosecutors in New Jersey must to secure a criminal conviction to forfeit property valued at or below $10,000, or less than $1,000 in cash (a large majority of property seized). Though this policy curtails the use of civil asset forfeiture, it doesn't eliminate it.

Quotas

Some Progress:

In 2013, New Jersey passed a law banning ticket quotas and limiting the usage of policing statistics in funding considerations, but in many agencies, officers are still evaluated based on the number of arrests they make.

Pending Legislation: A4058, introduced in January 2021, "prohibits law enforcement agencies from considering number of arrests made and citations issued when evaluating police officer's professional performance."

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

Loitering in New Jersey has been decriminalized since 1978. However other non-violent crimes remain criminalized. NJ voters indicated their support for legalized marijuana use through a Nov. 2020 ballot referendum. But, amendments added to the 2020 decriminalization bill (A-1897) led the Assembly to cancel a November vote on the bill.

Pending Legislation: In June 2020, legislators introduced a bill to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses and non-violent property crimes The bill was passed by the Assembly, revised and passed by the Senate, and now must be revised again by the Assembly (under the bill # A5266) before the governor can sign.

Objective justification for stops

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). New Jersey law is extremely lenient towards police officers in this regard. There are numerous acceptable reasons, such as not having a bell on a bicycle, for initiating a stop.

Reporting stop details

Some Progress:

As part of the reforms implemented by AG Gurbir Grewal (D) in December 2020, law enforcement agencies must "document all uses of force by their officers or risk investigation by county prosecutors or the attorney general’s office."

Pending Legislation: A4273, introduced in January 2021, requires the comprehensive reporting and public presentation of traffic stop data, dis-aggregated by race, age, gender, reason for the stop, and result of the stop. The bill also institutionalizes the publication of this data.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. However, New Jersey's 2019 Excellence in Policing Initiative (a package of recommendations, not laws, overseen by the state AG) encourages increased accountability for law enforcement.

Pending Legislation: A3650 codifies the use of an independent investigator in any use of force incident or case of officer-involved death or serious injury.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity. In fact, in Morillo v Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office (2015), the Supreme Court of NJ reaffirmed the legitimacy of qualified immunity.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

New Jersey has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police).

Pending Legislation: A4366, passed by the Assembly on 7/30/20, would require the state training authority to "contract with crisis intervention
training center to provide mental health training to police officers and establish curriculum specific to persons experiencing economic crisis or substance use
disorder." Another bill, S686, would establish a Statewide Mental Illness Diversion Program to divert mentally ill individuals away from the justice systems and towards appropriate case management and mental health services.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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