New Jersey Attorney General to Begin Implementing Extensive Overhaul of Police Use-of-Force Policies

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaks during a news conference in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaks during a news conference in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.
Photo: Seth Wenig (AP)

New Jersey is set to implement the first overhaul to its police use-offorce policy in over 20 years.


According to NJ, the new policy will ban cops from using force to accelerate an arrest, require cops to report any use of force incidents to an online portal within 24 hours, and prevent the use of police dogs on people who are only resisting arrest among other changes. The new policies are all a part of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s Excellence in Policing initiative. Grewal has said the new policies are designed to protect “the sanctity of human life.”

The attorney general’s office in New Jersey is unique in that it holds direct oversight of all the state’s law enforcement officers; from beat cops all the way up to county prosecutors. Grewal is also one of seven state attorneys general who is appointed rather than elected, so he’s free of the politics that comes with making these decisions. Grewal announced last year that the use-of-force policy would be rewritten and consulted with law enforcement, civil rights groups, and the public when drafting the policies. While the effort was underway prior to the death of George Floyd, officials told NJ that the public outcry that followed accelerated the process.

The new rules label “prolonged sitting, kneeling or standing on a person’s chest, back, or neck” as “deadly force.” After a person is put into police custody they are now required to “immediately be put in an upright position.” The rules also mandate that officers give medical assistance in the event a person is injured. Should an officer be about to use force, they must vocally warn the potential victim and give them “a reasonable opportunity” to respond.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy praised the new policies, calling them “another major step toward addressing the gap in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” in a statement.

I really don’t understand why these kinds of overhauls aren’t happening across all 50 states. Well, OK, I know why but it’s still odd because these changes just seem like what cops should’ve been doing in the first place. While Black people are disproportionately the victims of police violence, it’s not like white folks haven’t also been brutalized by the police. You would think basic self-interest would lead to widespread support for overhauls such as this one, but I guess some folks would just prefer to lick a boot.

Couldn’t be me.

While the new policies don’t go into full effect until Dec. 31, 2021, some of the changes have already taken place. Grewal said that over 500 police departments are utilizing the use of force portal as of Oct. 1, adding that it should be partially accessible to the public early next year. The portal will allow departments to track all instances of use of force and monitor for any officers who are more prone to using force than others.


Officers in the state have until the end of next year to complete a two-day training program that goes over the new policies.


Gameface doesn`t play nice with others

I applaud the policies but I am more interested in the policies that reprimand or correct the officers’ behavior if they break the policies. How are they enforced? How much impact does their union have to shield them from prosecution and losing their jobs once they INEVITABLY break them. I realize it can be a stressful and taxing profession to be a police officer but that doesn’t or shouldn’t negate their requirement to protect the public - which includes the people who they arrest and/or suspect. If they follow what Camden did, things would improve greatly.