Assembly committee advances McKnight bill to create Municipal CCRB Pilot Program


The New Jersey Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee advanced Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) bill to create a five-year Municipal Civilian Complaint Review Board Pilot Program yesterday.

File photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Bill A-1515, also sponsored by Assembly members Benjie Wimberly and Shavonda Sumter, (both D-35) would initially create CCRBs in Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton, allowing residents to review police operations and conduct in their communities.

“A civilian review board plays a crucial role in demonstrating a commitment to fairness in the criminal justice system and shedding light on allegations of police misconduct,” McKnight said in a statement.

“This oversight created through this legislation would send a powerful message that the community is being heard and that law enforcement is accountable to that community. This, in turn, fosters a sense of cooperation and collaboration between the police and the community that can lead to better outcomes when people need help.”

The legislation would enable a civilian review board to conduct investigations, make recommendations, review and investigate complaints filed with the board, and review any completed internal affairs investigations that are alleged to have missed evidence of police misconduct or failed to properly discipline law enforcement officer misconduct.

The bill also grants the board the authority to issue subpoenas related to its investigations.

The bill tasks the New Jersey Attorney General with developing a civilian complaint system for residents to electronically, and anonymously, submit complaints of police misconduct.

To ensure residents have the knowledge needed to serve on civilian review boards, the bill requires the Attorney General to develop a training course for board members and employees.

A board could not investigate the conduct of any law enforcement officers, or recommend the imposition of disciplinary measures, unless its members or employees have completed this training.

Additionally, participants would be required to take a training course no less than once every two years and a CCRB would consist of at least three members, appointed by the mayor or chief executive officer of the municipality.

““In addition to making it easier for New Jerseyans to file complaints, these boards would also give the community a voice in the police disciplinary process and help instill residents’ confidence in the men and women who are sworn to protect them,” said Sumter.

Civilian review boards create a new avenue for our residents to give their insight and input on incidents of police misconduct, ensuring that transparency and accountability are at the forefront of police-community relations. With this measure, we are making clear that fair policing, equity under the law, and justice are non-negotiable,” added Wimberly.

A version of the bill has been making it’s way through the legislature through 2021 and had largely been stalled until now, though the Jersey City Council approved a resolution in support of the bill, most recently in October.

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