Jersey City Council members Denise Ridley and James Solomon are prepared to introduce a civilian complaint review board (CCRB) ordinance after reaching a compromise proposal that includes 11-member board with subpoena power.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I believe that government works best when it is responsive to the requests of residents. The City is actively taking steps to better the relationship between our police department and the community,” Ridley said in a joint statement.
“A CCRB is a step that gives both civilians and police an additional avenue to address complaints in a transparent way. Establishing the groundwork for a CCRB in Jersey City shows that we are committed to growing and improving systems in an effort to increase communication and trust.”
Five of the 11 CCRB members would be chosen my a committee compromised of the three council-at-large members and several community leaders, with the other six being recommended by each individual ward council member.
The governing body would also have the ability to vote on findings and recommend discipline to Public Safety Director James Shea, though he would have to appear before the board to explain any decision that goes against their recommendations.
“On the heels of the appointment of Jersey City’s first civilian police director, a strong, independent CCRB would guarantee the accountability and transparency Jersey City residents rightfully ask from their police department,” added Solomon.
“Instead of the police investigating the police, trusted community members will provide impartial review of allegations of impropriety and release the findings of their investigations, building trust between our officers and the community.”
Furthermore, the CCRB would release data on all aspects of Jersey City Police Department’s operations to ensure transparency and accountability, along with a “trigger mechanism” to ensure the CCRB goes into effect after the state legislature passes the necessary bill.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Angela McKnight (D-31), commended Ridley, Solomon and everyone else involved for making this piece of local legislation possible in Jersey City.
“I am pleased to advocate at the state level on behalf of them, and all of the other leaders of municipalities throughout the state who have remained committed to having a CCRB,” she noted.
“We must pass legislation that ensures that these local governing bodies have a framework in place that will truly increase transparency and accountability between law enforcement agencies and the people they serve.”
The two electeds said they plan on introducing the measure for first reading at the February 24th council meeting.
Mayor Steven Fulop has also voiced his support for a local CCRB, with Jersey City filing an amicus brief last month to join Newark’s U.S. Supreme Court bid to have their CCRB’s subpoena powers restored.
The New Jersey Supreme Court stripped Newark’s CCRB of subpoena power in an August ruling, to the chagrin of several Jersey City leaders.