(TRENTON) – Aiming to ensure integrity, professionalism, and transparency in law enforcement and help rebuild build community trust in the police, Assembly Democrats Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), and William Spearman (D-Camden, Gloucester) sponsor a measure that would create a statewide licensure system for law enforcement officers. If enacted, New Jersey will join 44 other states that already have a licensing or decertification program.
“Professional licensure would greatly help ensure law enforcement officers uphold the public trust by maintaining high standards of training and proficiency,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson. “Many professions require licensure and are held accountable if they are in violation. The job of law enforcement is as critically important to our communities as the work of doctors and lawyers. This bill would raise the level of professionalism that is required to serve our communities in any situation.”
The bill (S-2742/A-4194) would establish the licensure system through the Police Training Commission, which would establish uniform standards of professional conduct for law enforcement officers, minimum standards for licensure, act on initial and renewal applications, and suspend licenses for failure to meet such standards. The measure was approved by the full Assembly on Wednesday 70-8.
“The Police Training Commission would have the ability to better monitor officers and take the appropriate action against those who engage in improper conduct under established licensure standards,” said Assemblyman Wimberly. “This bill is a step toward rebuilding trust in our communities.”
“We should always work to enhance transparency and build better relationships between the police and the residents they protect,” said Assemblyman Spearman. “Through this measure, we would be able to hold bad actors accountable for their wrongdoings and ensure that the proper disciplinary actions are pursued.”
To reassure transparency, the measure would also provide increased civilian input by expanding the number of citizens appointed to the Commission to four public members.
“This legislation will further solidify our reputation as the best trained law enforcement officers in the nation and ensure that our officers continue to serve with integrity and honor,” said Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey State PBA.
“The State Troopers Fraternal Association had continually been willing to partner with the Governor and members of the legislature in producing common sense police reform legislation. This historic legislation creating a police licensing program here in New Jersey is no exception,” said Wayne Blanchard, President of the State Troopers Fraternal Association. “This is yet another piece of legislation that we have all worked on together to enhance transparency and promote public trust and confidence in our troopers and all law enforcement. This bill enhances the concepts of producing a more professional and better-trained police officer while incapacitating bad actors for which we have no tolerance.”
“The New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police supports transparency and the licensing bill provides that transparency,” said Robert Fox, President of the New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police.