Appeals court rules NJ attorney general can release police disciplinary records

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By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was a big win in court for New Jersey's attorney general, who now has the authority to release old police disciplinary records to hold officers accountable for their actions.

A three-judge panel in a New Jersey court of appeals upheld Attorney General Gurbir Grewal's directive that requires law enforcement agencies to release the records of officers who have been fired, demoted or suspended for at least five days because for disciplinary reasons and required state police to release data dating back 20 years.

Officers are required to get 14 days notice before the files are made public, and each one has the option to challenge the release in court individually.

Police union attorneys sued to block Grewal's directive, saying those files are exempt under state open records laws and that it would put officers and their families at risk of retaliation, but the panel sided with the attorney general.

Grewal was thrilled with the ruling, saying it's time to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and to stop protecting the few to the detriment of many.

Police union attorneys are reviewing the opinion for a possible appeal. One attorney for retired troopers said they were disappointed the judges didn't see the injustice these officers will undergo if records from years ago are released.