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McKnight Introduces Legislation to Require Up-to-Date Photos in Police Personnel Files

Bill Would Require Officers to Have New Digital Photograph Taken Every Eight Years

Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight has introduced legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to maintain up-to-date photographs of their officers in an effort to improve police accountability.

“Overall, New Jersey’s police officers are hard-working, honorable men and women. There are some, however, who abuse their power and fail to uphold their duty to protect and serve the public,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Law enforcement agencies must hold officers accountable for their actions in order to build trust within the community. Our state can advance that objective by facilitating civilian oversight.”

The bill (A-4755) would require law enforcement officers to have a digital photograph taken and then updated every eight years for their personnel files and any photo identification issued by their employer. Having current photos on file would better enable individuals to identify an officer via a personnel file photograph after an incident in the event that they were unable to make note of the officer’s name or badge number as it occurred.

“If a law enforcement agency only requires an officer to take a photo upon first joining the force, that officer may look different a decade or two into his or her career, making it difficult for a witness of misconduct to identify the officer,” said McKnight. “Requiring departments to update photos regularly will help keep agencies accountable, strengthen community-police relations, and ultimately, advance public safety in New Jersey.”

The measure was referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.