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McKnight Bill to Create Civilian Review Boards in All NJ Municipalities Clears Panel

Legislation to provide local resident input in police matters involving abuse or use of excessive force—sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson— cleared the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee Monday.

The bill (A-4272) would establish a civilian review board in every municipality to review and investigate complaints against members of the police force of the municipality. In those municipalities that have State Police serve in the role of the municipal police force, the civilian review board would review and investigate complaints against members of the State Police serving in that capacity within the municipality.

Last year, the City of Newark established a civilian police review board after federal authorities discovered police abuse and use of excessive force in its department. “The rise in fatalities of men and women in police custody happening around the country has left communities in despair, feeling targeted and on the wrong side of justice,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “When we talk about restoring community and police relations, the involvement of community member’s in the dialogue that directly affects their neighborhoods and the actions taken by police in their communities is now critical to maintaining social justice. This is about fostering transparency, fairness, and equality in justice served. It will do more to nurture positive relations in future between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

A civilian review board would consist of seven members who are appointed by the mayor or other chief executive officer of the municipality with the consent of the governing body of the municipality.

This legislation is one of several bills discussed and approved by the Assembly Community Relations Committee on Monday on social justice reform.