Acting AG Bruck Issues Three Major Statewide Policing Policies

Policies Regulate “No-Knock” Warrants, Bystander Recording of Police Activity, and Diversity in Law Enforcement Recruiting and Hiring

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2021

Office of The Attorney General
– Andrew J. Bruck, Acting Attorney General

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Peter Aseltine

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced three statewide law enforcement policies that reinforce New Jersey’s position as a national leader in the policing profession.

  • “No-Knock” Warrants. Regulates the application of no-knock warrants in New Jersey to ensure they are used only when necessary to promote officer or civilian safety, and establishes approval and reporting requirements for the rare instances when no-knock warrants are used.
  • Right to Record Police Activity. Ensures that the First Amendment’s bounds are as clear as possible—to both civilians and law enforcement alike—with respect to the right to observe, object to, and record police activity.
  • Diversity in Law Enforcement Recruiting and Hiring. Provides guidance, per statute, to law enforcement agencies on working towards the goal of reflecting the diversity of the population of the community each agency is charged with protecting, and establishes officer demographic data collection requirements.

“The initiatives announced by the Office of the Attorney General are a tremendous step forward for law enforcement,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “They will build public trust and better reflect the diversity of the communities they protect and serve, underscoring our administration’s commitment to transparency, racial equity, and justice in our policing practices.”

“New Jersey is a national leader on policing issues, and the three policies we are issuing today reaffirm our commitment to excellence,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “But what makes the Garden State special is that we develop policing policies collaboratively, by engaging law enforcement and community members alike, as we work to promote public trust and protect public safety.”

“As our country continues to evolve, New Jersey remains at the forefront of transparent policing by implementing policies that help reinforce the trust between law enforcement and our residents,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Our Troopers are held to the highest of standards, therefore we remain committed to upholding the directives that demonstrate our dedication to the communities we serve.”

Acting Attorney General Bruck issued the following directives and guidelines today to implement these policies:

AG Directive 2021-12: Regulating “No-Knock” Warrants. This Directive provides common-sense regulations on both “no-knock” and “knock-and-announce” warrants that will promote officer and civilian safety.

  • Allows for law enforcement officers to request authorization from the court for a no-knock provision only under the following circumscribed conditions—narrower than what is permitted by law—where (i) knocking and announcing will create a reasonable and particularized concern for officer safety or the safety of another person and (ii) a trained tactical team executes the no-knock warrant.
  • Requires County Prosecutors, or their senior legal staff designee, to approve any warrant that includes a no-knock provision, as well as review of any no-knock warrant execution by the County Prosecutor’s Office.
  • Asks County Prosecutors to track the number of no-knock warrants applied for and authorized by courts in their jurisdiction.
  • Establishes a default time period for all warrant executions, in order to avoid the unnecessary execution of warrants in the middle of the night.
  • Instructs law enforcement to take reasonable steps to identify the occupants of the premises to be searched, including any children or individuals with known vulnerabilities, prior to warrant execution.

AG Directive 2021-11: First Amendment Right to Observe, Object to, and Record Police Activity. In order to continue building better relationships between communities and police, this Directive outlines as clearly as possible a bystander’s right to observe, object to, and record police activity under the First Amendment, as well as its limitations.

  • Outlines a bystander’s right to witness, observe, audio and video record, photograph, comment on, or complain about law enforcement officers conducting official duties in public, as long as the bystander has a legal right to be present where they are. 
  • Describes actions that officers may not undertake against non-interfering bystanders, such as telling the bystander that recording is not allowed, or demanding identification.
  • States that bystanders may not cross a police line simply because they have a recording device, and reminds officers that N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 continues to prohibit conduct whereby a person purposely obstructs a government function.
  • Provides protocols in the narrow circumstances where recording devices may be seized.

AG Guidelines: Promoting Diversity in Law Enforcement Recruiting and Hiring. A 2020 law, N.J.S.A. 52:17B-4.10 (the “Act”), directed the Attorney General to develop guidelines to ensure the Act’s uniform application. The Guidelines include the following:

  • Describe the process by which each law enforcement agency in New Jersey, as defined under the Act, shall establish a program to (1) identify underrepresented groups by comparing the population the agency represents to the composition of its officer force, and (2) take action to address any underrepresentation.
  • In accordance with the Act, set forth procedures for the collection and reporting of demographic data regarding recruiting, hiring, promoting, and other personnel actions concerning law enforcement officers in New Jersey. The initial reporting date is January 31, 2022.

Although the Guidelines on Law Enforcement Recruiting and Hiring are based on a statute and apply directly to law enforcement officers, the Attorney General’s Office and the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey (CPANJ) are committed to working together and with colleges, law schools, affinity bar organizations, private law firms and other stakeholders to develop effective strategies to recruit and retain diverse prosecutors as well. CPANJ is working with the Attorney General’s Office specifically focused on tracking and collecting data, and developing and implementing best practices for the recruitment and retention of diverse prosecutors.

On Friday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m., Acting Attorney General Bruck will host a public virtual town hall about the newly-issued First Amendment “right to record” policy.

Read One-Page Summary: Three Statewide Policing Policies

Statements of Support for Policing Policies

ACLU-NJ (American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey)
Jeanne LoCicero, Legal Director

Regarding No-Knock Warrants Directive: “Though short of an all-out ban on no-knock warrants, this new policy provides meaningful limitations on their use and significant oversight for preventing greater abuse of a tactic that has been used to violate people’s rights. It will make New Jerseyans safer.”

Regarding Right to Record Police Activity Directive: “Far too many people who film police for accountability have been intimidated by police or charged with obstruction just for using their phone to record. The Right to Record Directive affirms the essential First Amendment right of New Jerseyans to document and even criticize police conduct. The Directive sends a critical message to law enforcement and communities alike and is an important step forward on New Jersey’s path to improving transparency and ensuring anti-racist policing practices.”

CPANJ (County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey)
Scott Coffina, CPANJ President; Burlington County Prosecutor

Regarding No-Knock Warrants Directive: “Judicially-approved, “no-knock” search warrants are rarely used in New Jersey, but there are times when they are necessary to promote officer and civilian safety. The County Prosecutors recognize, however, that no-knock warrants present their own safety risks. This Directive by the Acting Attorney General strikes the correct balance, reducing that risk by requiring no-knock warrants to be executed by specially-trained tactical teams and ensuring greater oversight and accountability for their use.”

Regarding Diversity in Recruiting and Hiring Guidelines: “We appreciate Acting Attorney General Bruck offering these guidelines to maximize opportunities for law enforcement agencies to recruit and retain qualified police officers who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. CPANJ appreciates how important it is to our residents and to the cause of justice that we have police officers—and prosecutors—who represent the rich variety of backgrounds of the people we serve, and look forward to working with the Attorney General’s Office, our local law enforcement agencies, and all other stakeholders to further the goals of the recent legislation.”

LAN (Latino Action Network)
Cuqui Rivera, Criminal Justice Reform Chair

“LAN applauds the Attorney General’s Office for its commitment and inclusion of community engagement in the crafting of these important directives. As leaders in communities of color we understand how perception and diversity impact our lives on a daily basis and we look forward to collaborating with state, county and local law enforcement executives on ‘diversity in law enforcement’ outreach. We will continue to monitor the progress of recruitment and retention of women and minorities in these important roles.”

MALEA (Muslim American Law Enforcement Association)
Lt. Kamil Warraich, MALEA President

“The Muslim American Law Enforcement Association welcomes the issuing of the Attorney General Guidelines regarding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the New Jersey law enforcement community. These guidelines are a step in the right direction to ensure law enforcement agencies represent the rich diversity within the communities we protect and serve. We appreciate the opportunity to provide input and value our continued partnership in striving to make New Jersey a national role model.”

NAN (National Action Network)
Reverend Steffie Bartley, NAN Northeast Regional Director, Pastor, New Hope Memorial Baptist Church, Elizabeth, N.J.

“National Action Network works closely with the police in the recruitment process to ensure diversity, and we fully support the Attorney General Guidelines to advance this important cause. We also applaud the Right to Record Directive, which will help further promote law enforcement transparency in the community. Regarding the No-Knock Warrants Directive, we support this action to carefully restrict these warrants, so as to keep everyone safe and prevent further instances like the Breonna Taylor case.”

NJISJ (New Jersey Institute for Social Justice)
Andrea McChristian, Law & Policy Director

“We applaud New Jersey for taking an important step in importing accountability into policing by protecting civilians’ right to record law enforcement conduct. As we have seen over the past few years, videos and recordings are critical tools in documenting police abuse and holding law enforcement accountable. This new directive will empower people to record without fear of intimidation or retaliation.”

NJMOS (New Jersey Muslim Officers Society)
Detective II Mudduser Malik, NJMOS President

“The New Jersey Muslim Officers Society supports the New Jersey Attorney General’s mission to improve diversity in law enforcement and its aim to reflect the population of the community while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and training New Jersey law enforcement officers are recognized for on a national level. NJMOS is looking forward to collaborating with the AG’s Office to provide proactive solutions regarding the matter and promoting this honorable profession to the young men and women around the State of New Jersey.”

NJSACOP (New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police)
John Zebrowski, NJSACOP President; Chief of Police, Sayreville Police Department

“The new Recruitment Guidelines issued by Acting Attorney General Bruck are the product of a highly collaborative process between key stakeholders in law enforcement and community leaders that ensures agency accountability through policies and practices that are specific, measurable, and time-based.”

NJWLE (New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement)
Megan Flanagan, NJWLE President

 “The membership of New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement appreciates the proactive approach by Acting Attorney General Bruck and his team to directly impact the future of policing by implementing a policy that will help guide the recruitment and retention of qualified women to the heroic profession of law enforcement. By being able to represent the community through the hiring of qualified candidates, we can continue the tradition of excellence in policing for the State of New Jersey. Promoting diversity is essential to building better relationships with our community and New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement is extremely appreciative that we were asked to contribute to this essential policy.”

NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives)
Jiles H. Ship, President NOBLE New Jersey; Past National President, NOBLE

Regarding Diversity in Recruiting and Hiring Guidelines: “The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives has worked with the Legislature over the past five years to increase diversity in law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey. From our years of experience, we know that police agencies that are rich in diversity are simply more likely to garner individual trust among a group of citizens, because the agency is reflective of the community and is inclusive of officers of many backgrounds and experiences. We applaud Acting Attorney General Bruck for his efforts to make this a reality and we look forward to working with him.”

Regarding Right to Record Police Activity Directive: “Transparency in law enforcement agencies is particularly important because the agencies exercise discretionary power and require significant trust from the public. If police officers are engaging in misconduct or failing to protect civilians from violence, we must be able to discover it and determine how to improve policing.  This also helps to ensure the safety of the officer.”

STFA (State Troopers Fraternal Association)
Wayne Blanchard, STFA President

“Over the past 18 months, the STFA leadership has been proud to work with so many other stakeholders in implementing common sense criminal justice reform and improvement, which will help rebuild transparency and trust in law enforcement, while balancing the safety and rights of our membership.

“We have always maintained that the brave men and women of the New Jersey State Police who serve in the State of New Jersey, are the most professional and highly trained police officers in the nation.  Beyond that, we feel the structure in our state’s law enforcement agencies promotes great transparency and accountability. We do realize that there is always room for improvement in policy and performance, and today, we stand proud to partner with the Office of the Attorney General, in having input on these three major policy announcements.

“We are honored to have been given an opportunity to give significant input into the creation of these policies and in particular the regulation of ‘no-knock’ search warrants. Many of the provisions in this policy are as a result of the best practices already being performed by our troopers when executing ‘no-knock’ warrants. This policy provides further accountability by establishing strict oversight of the application, execution, and tracking of ‘no-knock’ warrants, which we believe shall establish immediate trust, transparency, and greater accountability statewide.

“We have been delighted to see the New Jersey State Police graduate immensely diverse recruit classes, especially in the last five to 10 years. The STFA leadership strongly supported the legislation which serves as the foundation for the Office of the Attorney General’s new Guideline on Promoting Diversity in Law Enforcement Recruiting and Hiring. We believe the legislation and policy will continue to enhance our efforts to recruit diverse and talented men and women to serve in our ranks and be reflective of the diverse population within our great state.

“Finally, as part of the service to the citizens of our state, as troopers we pride ourselves on preserving the rights and dignity of each and every individual we encounter. We believe in the final product of the Office of the Attorney General’s First Amendment recordation policy. This policy provides great balance between the protection of our citizens’ rights, while giving clear guidelines to law enforcement that will allow them to perform their duties in a safe and constitutionally sound manner.”


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