As protests rage on, NJ continues efforts to improve police accountability

Police at protest
Photo credit Mihajlo Maricic/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Authorities in New Jersey say a series of police reforms have been in the works — even before the protests.

Demonstrations across the country have carried on for days, sparked by the death of Minneapolis black man George Floyd at the knee of a white police officer.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said he shares the anger of the protesters. 

He reminded residents about an ongoing state initiative to increase police accountability — which updates the use-of-force policy for the first time in two decades. 

At the governor's daily briefing on Tuesday, Grewal said he's also backing a proposal to license the state's 36,000 law enforcement officers.

“Just as we license doctors, nurses, lawyers, hundreds of other professions, we must ensure that all officers meet a baseline level of professionalism,” he said. “And, we must ensure that those who cannot meet this standard can't work in New Jersey.”

The state is also piloting crisis intervention training to help reduce the use of force. Grewal said he'll present that proposal to the New Jersey Police Training Commission.

“While I'm proud of how we are at the forefront of so many different policing reforms and efforts, this is one where we lag behind. I think there are something like 43 states that have some type of licensing or certification program,” he added, “so this is one we will be building from the ground up.”

Next month, a pilot use-of-force database will expand from six towns to the entire state, so authorities can track how — and how often — officers use force.