TRENTON — The state Attorney General’s Office on Friday asked for residents’ input as officials work to revise the state’s use-of-force policy for police.
“The Use of Force policy affects everyone, and so everyone should have the opportunity to weigh in on its revisions,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “We want to hear from a broad cross-section of our state: police officers, civil rights advocates, religious leaders, victims’ rights organizations and community members. We especially want to hear from those that have had negative experiences with law enforcement officers because we are committed to getting this right. By engaging residents across New Jersey, we will ensure that the updated policy reflects New Jersey’s values.”
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A public comment portal is available for residents to submit comments on the policy, and listening sessions will be held across each of the state’s 21 counties with their respective prosecutor, according to a news release. The first listening session is scheduled for June 24, and, going forward, they will be held either in person or virtually.
The portal, available at nj.gov/oag/force, will accept submissions through Aug. 1, according to the release, and specifically requests input on topics that will be discussed as part of the revision process, including:
Specific tactics designed to subdue a subject (e.g., chokeholds, neck restraints, strikes to the head and face, use of police dogs)
Engaging subjects with serious mental illness or substance abuse issues
Exhausting all other reasonable means (e.g., verbal warnings) and pursuing de-escalation before resorting to deadly force
Applying force proportionate to the subject’s alleged conduct (e.g., limiting the use of force when the subject has committed a nonviolent offense)
Less-than-lethal uses of force (e.g., bean bag shots, rubber bullets, disabling netting)
Duty to intervene when another officer engages in excessive use of force
Firing a weapon at a moving vehicle
High-speed car pursuits
Reporting and training requirements
Any other proposals that reduce the risk of injury and death to civilians while maintaining the safety of police officers
Gov. Phil Murphy and Grewal announced plans to revise the use-of-force policies earlier this month after George Floyd’s May death in police custody in Minneapolis.
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Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, has since been fired from the department and charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s death. Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.
The guidelines will be updated for the first time in two decades. Officials plan to implement a statewide database for use of force, and Grewal is advocating to require a statewide licensing program for all officers.