Today, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Officer Derek Chauvin, taking an important first step in the search for justice following the tragic death of George Floyd. Like so many others, I was horrified by the footage of Mr. Floyd’s death, and I hope that law enforcement officials across the country continue to make clear that abusive police practices will not be tolerated.
Mr. Floyd’s death reminds us that our country has a long way to go not only in healing our nation’s racial divides, but also in addressing the systemic and implicit biases that prevent all Americans from equally securing our country’s great promises. Now more than ever, we must redouble our commitment to building trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, especially those from historically marginalized communities.
Here in New Jersey, we are absolutely committed to a criminal justice system that is fair, transparent, and free of bias. This past December, we rolled out a sweeping set of statewide policy reforms, known as the Excellence in Policing Initiative, to promote the culture of professionalism, accountability, and transparency that are hallmarks of New Jersey’s best law enforcement agencies. But we must do more, and we are committed to working with our partners in law enforcement and the broader community to identify additional opportunities for improvement.
Unfortunately, there remain occasions where an officer uses violent force against civilians without justification. We condemn such actions, not simply because they are wrong, but also because they do a disservice to the vast majority of law enforcement officers committed to upholding the highest standards of the profession.
We also prosecute such cases criminally and through the police disciplinary process. As Attorney General, I oversee the investigation of use-of-force cases in this State, a role that makes me particularly sensitive to the difficulties of investigating and prosecuting such cases. My role as Attorney General also prevents them from commenting on individual cases, even where the publicly available information is horrifying and the conduct at issue unconscionable.
The residents of New Jersey should rest assured that we will never tolerate the types of police practices that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death. As part of our Excellence in Policing Initiative, we created new mechanisms for reporting allegations of police misconduct, including a standardized reporting form that must be offered by every police department in New Jersey. We take police-misconduct allegations seriously, and we are committed to ensuring justice and accountability for every resident of this state.