A groundswell of support to give Civilian Complaint Review Boards subpoena power in New Jersey is emanating out of Jersey City as activists and elected leaders continue to ask Trenton to make the matter a priority.
“A person who is Black is 3.5x more likely to be arrested for cannabis related reasons in NJ as a person who is white,” tweeted Eleana Little, a member of NJ-08 for Progress and the Hudson County Progressive Alliance.
“Rates of use are the same, this is a problem w/racist enforcement. We need to legalize cannabis on the ballot this Nov. AND support #A4272 to #ProtectCCRBsNJ!”
The hashtag “ProtectCCRBsNJ” quickly rose to prominence on Twitter this afternoon, briefly trending in New Jersey with after approximately 2,000 related posts.
“.@NewJerseyOAG: For too long, Police Unions have used scare tactics on elected officials to ensure any legislation containing scrutiny against Police Departments. Stand with the people of NJ in demanding police accountability. #ProtectCCRBsNJ,” wrote Hudson County Students Demand Action Founder Jai Patel.
The social media campaign began at least in part due to Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) stating that she would amend her bill to allow CCRBs in municipalities across the state to have subpoena power, as HCV first reported.
“Supporting @AswMcKnight’s CCRB Bill 4272 will give cities across the state the ability to build a better relationship between the police and the community full of responsibility and accountability,” Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted.
“If you take an objective look at policing laws and rules here in New Jersey, you would come to the conclusion that they’re fundamentally broken,” Fulop said at a press conference held by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka yesterday.
“There is a patchwork of a lot of well-intentioned laws that make it virtually impossible to get any meaningful change in any police department.”
He also called on Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to support impactful CCRBs. The governor has subsequently told Politico he’d be open to CCRB’s with subpoena power.
Subsequently, the mayor was asked if he would support a local CCRB ordinance that has been spearheaded by Ward E Councilman James Solomon that would come with a “trigger mechanism” that would enact the board as soon as statewide legislation is approved.
Fulop said that he would back such a measure if introduced by the city council, as did Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro.
Advocates have also indicated that CCRBs in New Jersey should have appointment power of the people, budget protection, and disciplinary power.
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Newark’s CCRB could not have subpoena power and could only recommend disciplinary action to the city’s public safety director.