Fulop’s N.J. public safety plan: Closing youth prisons, ID’ing repeat offenders, & CCRBs

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a democratic candidate for governor, rolled out a statewide public safety plan today that included closing youth prison, requiring county prosecutors to identify repeat offenders, and implementing civilian complaint review boards (CCRBs).

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“The more detail-oriented you are, the more vulnerable you are to criticism. I’ve had the opportunity and privilege of interacting with the community and law enforcement … in a first-hand tangible way,” Fulop said at AndCo co-working space in Jersey City today, one day after discussing the city’s crime stats for 2023.

On the home front, Fulop cited the Jersey City Police Department’s response to the domestic terrorism incident four years ago, diversifying their ranks, and investing in technology as success that have lowered crime.

He also branched out into statewide topics such as re-entry, bail reform, and CCRBs.

“Governor McGreevey’s Reentry Corporation started here as a byproduct of our administration and funding that we put into place in partnership with him. It has obviously grown significantly from that. It speaks to our value system here in Jersey City,” he noted.

“I’ve been a proponent of bail reform. Nobody should be in the jail system that can’t afford to be out. There clearly are issues … We are in support of a CCRB civilian review board,” he explained.

Fulop noted New Jersey state Senator-elect Angela McKnight (D-31) has been pushing the issue in the legislature, which he said “is not a coincidence,” and while many police unions are against CCRBs, he still believes “civilian oversight is important.”

Additionally, Fulop suggested paying public defenders more so that they are more motivated/effective and having county prosecutors identify repeat offenders and have a plan to prosecute them so that they don’t tie up the court system.

He said he supports bail reform, but it would be more effective with some minor tweaks. He also called for eliminating all public defender fees.

“It’s not balanced for the defendant at all. It’s fundamentally unfair,” Fulop stated.

He was all critical of the police chief bill of rights, which he said needs to be eliminated to fully hold the top cops in municipal police department’s accountable.

“It brings conflict often when a chief has a set of priorities versus the elected council and mayor that have a different set of priorities. That disconnect is fundamentally wrong,” he stated.

Fulop also called for the closure of youth prisons, stating that they only perpetuate gang culture, funding state-based pilot programs on sentencing alternatives, phasing in a restoration of COLA starting with retirees who have been receiving a pension for 10 years or more, instituting statewide ceasefire units, universal background checks, and increasing the age to purchase all firearms to 21 and up.

He also touted the Violent Crime Initiative, a partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office

When asked by HCV about the death of Drew Washington, who was fatally shot by a police officer after he grabbed a knife while experiencing a mental episode, Fulop said that he stands by his prior remarks that law enforcement acted appropriately.

“Any time that there’s a loss of life, it’s tragic. Looking from the perspective of today … obviously, it’s easy to question some of the judgment calls. I defended the JCPD, and I continue to in that instance because medical professionals were the first ones to arrive on the scene there. They are the ones that alerted the JCPD that they felt unsafe,” he explained.

“Having mental health professionals at certain calls is important and essential. However, there isn’t a mental health response in the country that would have a social worker or a mental health professional respond to an unsafe environment without police first.”

He continued that the often discussed request for proposals (RFP) to have crisis interventionists work with police is in the city council’s hands, still tweaking a contract that would have gone to the Jersey City Medical Center – who had professionals on the scene before police were called to Washington’s home.

“We have close to a thousand police officers and countless calls per day, and many of them are mental health issues, and most of them are not resolved like Drew Washington. That was a unique situation,” Fulop continued.

“I do not think that the city today has the bandwidth to train and hire the number of mental health professionals or the expertise in that. We’ve had responses from Texas to Jersey City. None of them have yet fit exactly what the council has been looking for. I don’t know that this program would have changed that outcome.”

He also said that he prefers police directors running departments over police chiefs statewide.

“We’ve had civilian oversight of the police for several years. That’s been helpful,” Fulop said, concluding by defending doing policy proposals early (he has previously laid out his statewide plans for transportation plans).

“There is a part of the voter base that cares … What I would like to see is more bold action. Not everybody’s going to be appreciative of what I’m saying here. The police unions probably won’t like it,” he quipped.

Fulop argued that his transportation policy proposal led to more conversations on funding NJ Transit, as his housing plan contributed to a bill introduced in the state legislature yesterday.

“There isn’t a candidate who’s going to run for New Jersey who has more hands-on experience with public safety than I do … Learning in the last 10 years what works and what doesn’t work is going to allow me to hit the ground running,” he declared.

For the moment, Fulop is in a head-to-head matchup with former Senate President Steve Sweeney in the June 3rd, 2025 primary, which he said yesterday is currently shaking out as expected.

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  1. Future Governor Fulop,

    You are addressing many things that have been left by the side for many years. Two things I want to have addressed. I as former law enforcement do not have3 a problem with civilian review. What my problem there is the people picked for review boards are based on politics and those people go in thinking every officer is wrong. If people are picked that are open minded it would help.

    Also something no one has mentioned. There are many very small police departments in our state. Why not combine them under either the largest department or under the Sheriff for better oversight as well as saving cost on numerous ppolice chiefs, salaries and pensions. This too may not be popular but I know you are the one to get things done. Thank you