Use-of-force database established by New Jersey attorney general
New Jersey is implementing new guidelines on the use of force for all 38,000 law enforcement officers in states, counties and towns in the state, the attorney general's office said on Monday.
"Our goal is to equip every officer with the tools to avoid or minimize the use of violence when it is safe to do so, and to create a culture in which officials intervene as needed when their colleagues behave inappropriately," said Thomas Eicher, director of the New Jersey Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), the agency within the Attorney General's office responsible for overseeing corruption and misconduct in the criminal justice system.
This new policy comes after protests across the country last summer calling for police reforms in response to the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
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The office is also setting up a violence database to be used for analysis and requires two days of violence training for all New Jersey law enforcement officers, according to a press release.
The new guidelines also include a ban on officers shooting at vehicles and a stricter vehicle tracking policy.
PHOTO: New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal during a signing ceremony in the state capital, Trenton, New Jersey August 5, 2019. (Matt Rourke / AP, FILE)
"We are committed to making New Jersey a national leader in police reform, and today's actions deliver on that promise," said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. "We're building on the vital work already done in the best police departments in the state and we're establishing a new standard of quality across the Garden State. These changes aren't just about reducing the unnecessary use of force by law enforcement, however." Public trust in our work - which in the long run makes law enforcement more effective and everyone safer. "
In an interview with ABC News, Grewal said he was specifically inspired to make the changes after a local newspaper compiled police data on the use of violence from across the state and wanted to create a database where "we hold officers accountable and accountable Can hold "responsible" if they break our rules. "
The new guidelines focus on seven principles, including stating that lethal force should only be used as a "last resort", and build on existing guidelines that law enforcement officers use a clear warning and demonstrate the "appropriate" use of force had to was justified.
Another principle provides for an "obligation to intervene", which states that an officer, regardless of rank, is obliged to intervene if he sees another officer using illegal or excessive force.
The previous guidelines were implemented by the Attorney General's Office in 2000. Grewal said the reason for the update was that "a 20 year old policy doesn't reflect best practice, doesn't reflect who we are as a state". and does not reflect our values as a state. "
"If you look at our 20-year policy, it only speaks of the use of force. It doesn't even have the word de-escalation," he said. "It doesn't reflect best practice. So we wanted to create a whole new framework for citizens to interact with law enforcement, where, as our policy states, the main objective before you can talk about the use of force is to: How do we preserve the rights and freedoms of our residents? How do we preserve their dignity? And how do we preserve the sanctity of human life? This is where we start before we talk about violence, and where do we go from there. "
Grewal said the new policy was created with a lot of input from state and local law enforcement and religious leaders, and that the attorney general's office expects initial statistics from their new database to be available in the first quarter of 2021.
Proponents of the change, including the New Jersey Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new guidelines were a good first step in implementing police reform.
"If effectively implemented, this framework could serve to prevent tragic consequences and protect fundamental rights, especially in black and brown communities that are often the subject of over-police," said Amol Sinha, executive director of the group, in the press release .
Richard Smith, president of the NAACP in New Jersey, said these reforms are a good starting point for police accountability.
PHOTO: Thousands of police officers gather in the rain for the funeral of New Jersey Detective Joseph Seals on December 17, 2019 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images, FILE)
"The introduction of a strong nationwide policy to reduce the use of force is an important step forward in achieving police accountability," he said. "We support the guiding principle that civil servants must make every effort to preserve and protect human life and the safety of all persons, and never use discriminatory violence."
MORE: Proponents are pushing for police reform after the summer of unrest
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, whose group helped develop part of the mandatory situational deployment of violence training officers, said the New Jersey actions are an important step in the implementation of uniform policing guidelines across the state .
He said it was "important" that the new policy include training on Communication, Assessment and Tactics Integration (ICAT). According to the Police Executive Research Forum website, ICAT is "a training guide on the use of force designed to fill a critical gap in the training of police officers to respond to volatile situations in which subjects behave erratically, but often in dangerous ways no firearm. "
"They will be the first of the first states in the country to train all of their ICAT police forces in New Jersey," said Wexler.
"It is not enough just to come up with new guidelines that are very good," he added. "Equally important is providing training to officials to help them implement these guidelines. Too many states, too many jurisdictions, just adopt a new guideline without training. And that can be a recipe for disaster."
Wexler said New Jersey could be a model for the country.
"So the New Jersey attorney general is creating a unified policy on the use of force and providing appropriate training," he said.
The violence database established by the New Jersey Attorney General originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
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