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McKnight, Mukherji & Reynolds-Jackson Bill Requiring Municipal Police Departments to Host Biannual Community Roundtables on Police Relations Passes Committee

Building on prior legislation to improve relations between law enforcement and their communities, Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight, Raj Mukherji and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson sponsor legislation that would mandate community roundtables on police relations in New Jersey municipalities. The bill was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.

The bill (A-5506) would require the chief law enforcement officer of every municipal police department to hold two community roundtable events on police relations annually. If a municipality does not have a chief law enforcement officer, the Superintendent of the State Police would be the one to sponsor these community round tables.

“The mistrust between police and the communities they serve makes it difficult to build relationships and ensure safer communities,” said Assemblywoman McKnight (D-Hudson). “Open discussions between law enforcement and local residents are essential to addressing the complex issues dividing both parties and finding a path forward together.”

Under the bill, the roundtables would address topics such as race relations and racial profiling, regulation of body cameras, use of force, police misconduct, internal affairs, and training and recruitment of officers.

“Bringing law enforcement together with the communities they serve and engaging in candid conversation will help improve police-community relations and enhance safety for all,” said Assemblyman Mukherji (D-Hudson), Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “Community roundtables can include discussions on difficult topics such as use of force and racial profiling so that communities and agencies can build trust and identify solutions in a democratic and collaborative way, without compromising public safety or vilifying our uniformed heroes.”

The roundtables must be held at a central location within the municipality, with ample notice provided to the public to help maximize participation.

“We must continue working to overcome the systemic challenges that have impacted relations between law enforcement and members of the public for decades,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “Hosting regular roundtables is one way we can help build trust and foster understanding in our communities.”

The legislation now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.