Policing Reform

Policing Reform

Use of Force - Policing Reimagined

Policing Policy Documents

In New Jersey, the Attorney General has the authority to issue statements of statewide policy, known as “law enforcement directives,” that are binding on all 38,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers in New Jersey. Over the past several years, Attorney General Grewal has used his directive authority to enact a range of sweeping police reforms.

Use of Force Policy. In December 2020, AG Grewal issued the first revisions in two decades to the state’s “Use of Force Policy,” which establishes when officers may—and may not—use force against civilians and mandates extensive statewide training on the new policy. Codified in AG Directive 2020-13, the revised Use of Force Policy places strict limits on the use of force and calls upon law enforcement to protect the life, liberty, and dignity of residents in every interaction. To ensure accountability, AG Grewal also launched statewide de-escalation training and an online dashboard that provides the public with detailed information about every use of force incident in New Jersey. Learn more at njoag.gov/force.

Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. In September 2020, AG Grewal overhauled “Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures” (IAPP), the statewide rules that govern the internal disciplinary process for New Jersey’s police departments. The revised IAPP, codified in AG Directive 2020-7, imposes new oversight mechanisms and ensures thorough investigations on faster timelines.  Learn more at njoag.gov/iapp.

Major Discipline Directives. In June 2020, AG Grewal issued two documents – AG Directives 2020-5 and 2020-6 – mandating the release of previously confidential information about police officers’ disciplinary history. Directive 2020-5 requires that, going forward, all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey annually publish the names of officers subject to “major discipline,” meaning they were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than 5 days. Directive 2020-6 requires that the 3 law enforcement agencies under the Attorney General’s direct supervision – the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the Juvenile Justice Commission – publish the names of officers subject to major discipline at any time in the past 20 years.

Independent Prosecutor Directive. In December 2019, AG Grewal issued the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” which established a mandatory, 10-step process for conducting independent criminal investigations of use-of-force and death-in-custody incidents. Among other things, this new policy, also known as AG Directive 2019-4, created a presumption in favor of publicly releasing any video footage that documents a serious use-of-force incident within 20 days of the incident. Learn more at nj.gov/oag/independent-prosecutor.

Brady-Giglio Directive. Also in December 2019, AG Grewal issued the “Brady-Giglio Directive,” which required prosecutors to promptly disclose exculpatory evidence, including evidence that could impeach the credibility of government witnesses at trial. Codified as AG Directive 2019-6, the Directive requires prosecutors to identify and, where appropriate, disclose instances where a testifying law enforcement officer engaged in professional misconduct.

Officer Resiliency Directive. In August 2019, AG Grewal launched a first-in-the-nation statewide program to help officers handle the psychological and emotional stress of their work. Codified in AG Directive 2019-1, the policy requires every police department in New Jersey to designate an officer trained in resiliency who can provide confidential assistance to colleagues without professional repercussions.

Early Warning Systems Directive. In March 2018, AG Grewal issued AG Directive 2018-3, which requires that every police department in New Jersey create and maintain an “early warning system” (EWS) to identify at-risk officers and provide remedial services before their conduct escalate. Since then, AG Grewal has worked to build new, evidence-based EWS programs that operate hand-in-hand with officer resiliency initiatives.


Promoting Trust with Vulnerable Populations

Over the past several years, Attorney General Grewal has also issued a series of AG Directives designed to strengthen trust between law enforcement and historically marginalized communities, including immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, at-risk juveniles, and victims of sexual assault.

Immigrant Communities. In November 2018, AG Grewal issued the “Immigrant Trust Directive,” a landmark policy to ensure that victims and witnesses feel safe reporting crimes to local police without fear of deportation. The policy, codified as AG Directive 2018-6 and updated in September 2019, limits the types of voluntary assistance that New Jersey’s law enforcement officers may provide to federal civil immigration authorities, and includes a statewide ban on so-called “287(g) agreements” that deputize local officers to perform federal immigration duties. Learn more at njoag.gov/trust.

LGBTQ+ Individuals. In November 2019, AG Grewal issued the “LGBTQ+ Equality Directive,” which governs interactions between law enforcement officers and transgender individuals. Codified as AG Directive 2019-3, the policy is designed to ensure that all individuals are guaranteed safety and dignity in their encounters with law enforcement, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

At-Risk Juveniles. In December 2020, AG Grewal issued AG Directive 2020-12, which established new protocols to help divert juveniles away from formal court proceedings and towards social or familial support. The Directive identifies five mechanisms available to police officers and prosecutors to divert youth and limit the likelihood of unnecessary detention: curbside warnings, stationhouse adjustments, use of complaint-summons, presumptions against pretrial juvenile detention, and post-charge diversion by prosecutors.

Sexual Assault Victims. In November 2018, AG Grewal issued the Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault, Third Edition (“Standards”). The Standards provide a set of fourteen protocols that prioritize the needs and concerns of sexual assault victims in New Jersey. Most importantly, the Standards ensure that victims are treated with respect and understanding in the days, weeks, and months after reporting an assault.  Learn more at nj.gov/end-sexual-assault.


Additional Policing Initiatives

Policing Licensing. In June 2020, the New Jersey Policing Training Commission, which establishes statewide law enforcement standards, voted unanimously to create a statewide police licensing program. AG Grewal, who serves as the Commission’s chair, outlined the new structure, which will require officers to adhere to certain standards in order to maintain their license and continue working as a law enforcement officer in New Jersey.

Training Overhaul. Under AG Grewal’s direction, the Police Training Commission has also launched an initiative to overhaul statewide training protocols for law enforcement officers. The effort, currently underway, will review and revise the curriculum of all statewide trainings, from an officer’s first weeks in police academy to a police chief’s mid-career professional development programs.

Conviction Review Unit. In April 2019, AG Grewal launched one of the country’s first statewide conviction review units. The new unit, led by former Superior Court Judge Carolyn Murray, investigates claims of actual innocence involving any case brought by the Attorney General’s Office or any of the state’s 21 County Prosecutor’s Offices.

Ensuring Press Freedoms. In April 2021, AG Grewal issued guidance to ensure that members of the press can safely cover public demonstrations in New Jersey. The guidance reiterates that reporters have the right to record public events, and that police should never seize a reporter’s camera or notes.

Sentencing Reform. In April 2021, AG Grewal issued a directive to all prosecutors in New Jersey, instructing them to end the use of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes. Codified in AG Directive 2021-4, the policy applies to all current and future cases, and creates a mechanism to re-sentence individuals currently in prison for such offenses.  



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