Ward E Councilman Solomon again puts up measure in support of a Jersey City CCRB


Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon, as he did in April 2021, is putting up a resolution in support of a civilian complaint review board (CCRB) at this week’s meeting in light of the a mentally ill man wielding a knife being fatally shot by a police officer.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

” … Assembly Bill 1515 corrects the deficiencies in the existing state law that restrict a municipality’s ability to create a strong CCRB by, in part, granting local CCRBs subpoena power and the ability to review investigations by and, in some cases, conduct concurrent investigations with Internal Affairs,” the resolution, co-sponsored by Council President Joyce Watterman, Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley, and Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore says.

“Whereas, the City believes that municipal CCRBs with the powers set forth in Assembly Bill 1515 as presently constituted are essential in order to promote transparency and public confidence in the police disciplinary process; and whereas the tragic death of Andrew Washington had made it evident that the City needs an independent investigatory
body to ensure investigations of police conduct and police policies are conducted fairly.”

Solomon was the first council member to call for the police body camera footage from Washington’s fatal shooting on August 27th to be released by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office (some was released on September 22nd).

Washington, 52, who family members say suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for decades, was fatally shot by a police officer after he grabbed a large knife and lunged at him while having a mental episode.

“The tragic death of Andrew Washington has made it clearer than ever before that we need a strong Civilian Complaint Review Board,” noted Solomon.
“Members of our community should provide strong, independent oversight to ensure the police are working to rebuild trust within the community and the city.”

Solomon, along with Gilmore, was also quick to ask for the city to implement a crisis interventionist program that was approved by the council last year to work in tandem with the Jersey City Police Department as quickly as possible.

The resolution, which calls for the state Assembly to pass a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), notes that this would allow municipalities to adopt CCRBs with subpoena power.

This step is needed after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled against subpoena power in CCRBs in a case that originated out of Newark. McKnight’s bill has largely been stalled since that resolution was approved.

“The City of Jersey City has been a tremendous partner in advocating for the creation of strong civilian complaint review boards statewide, and I thank the City Council for introducing this resolution,” McKnight said.

“In addition to making it easier for New Jerseyans to file complaints, these boards would increase both transparency and accountability between law enforcement officers and members of their communities. They would also give the community a voice in the police disciplinary process and help to instill residents’ confidence in the men and women who are sworn to protect them.”

The Jersey City police unions sued the city and the council after a similar resolution, co-sponsored by Ridley, was approved on April 15th, 2021, but the suit was dismissed in November of that year.

” … The court does not find that the Resolution deprives Plaintiffs of the ability to be heard as to the future adoption of the ordinance,” Hudson County Superior Court Judge Christine Vanek ruled at the time.

“When executed correctly, these boards bring additional transparency and assist with restoring trust between residents and local police departments in a time when the lack of trust has caused damage on both ends. We encourage the State to take a serious look at the proposed bill and listen to the voices of its residents,” added Ridley.

Watterman added that Jersey City has the opportunity to lead by example throughout the country on this important issue.

“I believe transparency can provide the public the proper reassurance that their government is accountable and that their concerns are being heard. The CCRB has the potential to do just that,” said Council President Watterman. “As a strong advocate for Women’s Equity, affordable places to live, and Diversity and Inclusion; Jersey City can be an example across the country.”

The Jersey City Council convenes for their caucus tomorrow at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St., and then for their regular meeting at Thursday at 6 p.m. Both will stream live via Microsoft Teams.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

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