Murphy signs bill establishing Community Crisis Response Advisory Council into law


Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed the Seabrooks-Washington Community-Led Crisis Response Act, establishing a Community Crisis Response Advisory Council and related pilot programs into law.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The bill appropriates $12 million to support grant recipients from six eligible counties of the pilot program — Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Passaic — in addition to supporting the implementation of the bill by the Department of Law and Public Safety.

The bill is named for Najee Seabrooks, who was killed in Paterson in March, and Andrew Washington, who was killed in Jersey City in August. Both were shot by police during mental health crises, and in Washington’s case, he was wielding a knife.

“I am honored to sign the Seabrooks-Washington Community-Led Crisis Response Act to help those suffering from mental health crises,” Murphy said in a statement.

“In times of need, we want to do everything we can to protect those in crisis and get them timely help and health. I’d also like to recognize the grassroots organizations that have been on the ground doing this work for years. Their work was the inspiration for several of our programs and their collaboration has helped us reach this point in our efforts.”

The bill cleared the state Senate on Monday by a vote of 21-14 and went to the governor’s desk from there, as HCV first reported.

Attorney General Matthew Platkin also spoke in favor of the new law.

“Under the leadership of Governor Murphy and with the strong support of the Legislature, New Jersey has made historic investments in supporting and expanding a multidisciplinary public safety infrastructure,” he added.

“This legislation will provide additional resources to support individuals and communities that may benefit most from additional community-led, trauma-informed services and resources.”

The measure calls for a 13-member panel under the Department of Law and Public Safety.

This would include the deputy commissioner of Public Health Services, the assistant commissioner of the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services, and the director of Emergency Medical Services in the state Department of Health and the attorney general.

The governor would also select seven members of the public, with two recommendations coming from the assembly speaker and then another two from the senate president.

“The new Seabrooks-Washington Law is an important first step toward responses to crisis situations that will promote healing and provide solutions that will truly build community safety,” noted New Jersey Violence Intervention & Prevention Coalition Director Will Simpson.

“This law acknowledges that the lives of Najee Seabrooks, Andrew Washington and countless others killed by police could have been saved if handled differently. Our state is moving in a desperately needed better direction.”

Additionally, the families of both Seabrooks and Washington voiced their support for this new endeavor.

“Every American, including those with mental health issues, deserves to be able to call 911 in an emergency without fear of violence from the very people they’ve called for help. Najee deserved help, not bullets,” the Seabrooks family said in a joint statement.

“Let us empower our neighbors to be the first line of support during times of crisis, reducing our reliance on the police and ensuring that those in need receive the care and understanding they deserve,” Denise Davis, the aunt of Andrew Washington, asserted.

While the AG’s office released some police body camera footage of the fatal incident in September where Washington was killed, both the city and his family have said additional video exists and have called for it to be released as well.

The incident led to protests and lengthly public comments at city council meetings, with several demanding police reforms and more emphasis on responding to mental health crises.

“With the Seabrooks-Washington Act, we stand firm in our commitment to nonviolence. This legislation echoes our mission as a nonviolent organization, empowering communities to intervene, prevent, and resolve conflicts peacefully. Together, we build a future where violence is replaced by understanding, compassion, and collective well-being,” Hudson County Anti-Violence Coalition Executive Director Pam Johnson declared.

“In the face of adversity, the Seabrooks-Washington Act emerges as a beacon of change. Grateful for a positive shift, this legislation is our collective response to historical trauma. Thanks to its vision, we channel our energy into violence intervention and prevention, fostering a future where justice and healing prevail.”

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