While she expressed a willingness to compromise, Jersey City Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley said she currently plans on introducing her own Civilian Complaint Review Board ordinance at the September 23rd council meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a phone interview, Ridley said she is working on local legislation in conjunction with Newark Corporation Counsel, Jersey City Corporation Counsel, and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), the legislative author of bill that would allow CCRBs to have subpoena power.
Earlier today, Ward E Councilman James Solomon announced that he would be introducing a CCRB proposal at the September 23rd meeting after working in conjunction with Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement and ACLU-NJ.
Ridley said that while they agree on most of what he colleague proposed, such as subpoena and investigatory power, along with budget protections and a “trigger mechanism,” she feels that the selection of CCRB members may need some fine tuning.
“The main difference is the selection of the board members. Finding a way to be more inclusive around the membership, whether that’s a representative from each ward, I think is a big deal,” she explained.
“Everyone should have a right to join the board and it should be whoever is the most qualified.”
Solomon’s plan would allow seven out of 11 members to be selected from specific community groups including JCACM, Jersey City NAACP, Jersey City Together, and Hudson Pride.
Corporation counsel has not yet given an opinion on whether or not it would be legal to select groups from a limited talent pool, according to Ridley.
Ridley indicated that while her draft isn’t complete yet, her version would have nine members (the same as what Solomon had before adding a former law enforcement member and one member from PACO).
The Ward A representative also said that the CCRB should review the demographics of the police force, allow with where they reside, twice a year to ensure the department reflects the diversity of the city as a whole.
As far as potentially have to go head-to-head with Solomon with this in two weeks, Ridley reiterated that she would like to work together and avoid that scenario if possible.
“It might be a situation similar to inclusionary zoning, it isn’t a ‘hey, are you choosing me or James?’ I think we can work together to get something together where we can all agree on an ordinance,” she explained.
Solomon also said that he’s open to working together, though seems confident that the selection process he laid out is legal and stressed that any CCRB selections must be community based.
“On the legal side, I’m quite confident it is legal. Newark has a similar (if not the same structure) which was not challenged in the extensive litigation,” he said.
“On the ‘inclusive side,’ I am open to conversation however I believe appointments must be rooted in the community to ensure board is viewed as legitimate. I and the coalition partners are happy to sit down with Councilwoman Ridley to see if we can find common ground.”