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New Jersey's Use of Force Policy to Change for the Better

By Robert G. Stahl Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, Reasonable Opportunity, Non-Lethal Weapons, Disproportionate Use of Force, De-escalation on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Gurbir Grewal, the New Jersey State Attorney General, recently announced a new policy that will affect the State’s more than 38,000 police officers beginning on December 31, 2021. The change comes after two years of study into racial disparities and other issues involving the use of force in New Jersey. The new rules, which will limit the use of force, ban using police dogs on suspects who are simply resisting arrest and require departments to review every incident where force was used, are focused on protecting the “sanctity of human life.”

The new policy was developed after input from law enforcement, civil rights groups and religious organizations, as well as widespread comments from the public. Certainly, while there will be push back from individual departments and officers, many law enforcement groups have stated that the updated policy is long overdue.

NJ Use of Force Policy

In terms of specifics, all types of force – from physical restraints to discharge of a firearm – must be reported within 24 hours via an online portal. This system is designed to assist departments in tracking an individual officer’s use of force and whether it is at a higher rate than colleagues. It will also help departments determine whether its officers use force disproportionately against minority residents.

Furthermore, officers will be required to explain their use of force, respond to questions, “provide a clear warning that force will be used,” and give the person “a reasonable opportunity” to respond. In addition, the policy provides clearer guidelines and limitations on motor vehicle chases. These types of high speed chases often begin with a simple traffic violation, but can result in injuries or death of innocent third parties.

Training has begun on the new policy and requires a two-day course for each officer in more than 500 police departments. Use of force policies around the country are largely outdated and in need of reform to address the very real issues confronting law enforcement and citizens today. Training, advancements in non-lethal weapons and strategies to de-escalate situations provide tools to limit the unnecessary use of force and facilitate better relations with the communities the officers serve.

Stahl Criminal Defense is here for all of your criminal legal needs during this time. To contact the firm’s NJ office, call 908.301.9001  and to contact the firm’s NYC office, call 212.755.3300, or email Mr. Stahl at rstahl@stahlesq.com

Tags: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, Reasonable Opportunity, Non-Lethal Weapons, Disproportionate Use of Force, De-escalation

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