Johnson & Holley Bill to Equip Law Enforcement Agencies to Make Better Informed Hiring Decisions Passes Assembly

To ensure law enforcement agencies are best equipped when hiring officers, the full Assembly voted 78-0-0 on Thursday clearing legislation from Assemblymen Gordon Johnson and Jamel Holley.

Under the bill (A-744), law enforcement agencies would be required to disclose entire internal affairs and personnel files of law enforcement officers who are prospective candidates for employment with another agency.

The legislation would codify specific revisions made to Internal Affairs Policy and Procedures by the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive No. 2019-5, which require police departments to facilitate the sharing of disciplinary history on candidates. Changes made under this Directive took effect in April.

Sponsors of the bill released the following statements:

Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen): “Operating with minimal information does more harm than good when it comes to hiring an officer charged to serve and protect. With this legislation, we intend to give departments and jurisdictions all the information they need to determine if an applicant is the right fit. For us to reform police culture, we must ensure agencies are first aware of any disciplinary history.”

Assemblyman Jamel C.Holley (D-Union): “There needs to be more accountability. If an officer faces disciplinary action within one agency in one town and can easily move on to another agency in a different town without their record following them, we have an accountability problem. Making sure agencies aren’t kept in the dark about the background of candidates – good or bad – is what this legislation does. This is critical in our efforts to rebuild trust in law enforcement.”

The bill would also deem any future contract provision prohibiting a law enforcement agency from providing files, including internal affairs and personnel files, to another agency as unenforceable and against public policy.

It now goes to the Senate for consideration.