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Calls for police reform and culture change

David Cruz | July 15, 2020 | NJTV |

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is in a unique position to make dramatic change in how police deal with the public and how the public sees the police. At a hearing of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, Grewal tried to encourage a collective seizing of the moment, including reforms that might be uncomfortable for the status quo.

“We’ve mandated in the Internal Affairs policies and procedures that we have now that if you are a New Jersey chief hiring from another department, you have an affirmative obligation to get that Internal Affairs file and personnel file. That never before was required,” he said.

The panel heard from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who has drawn praise for pushing for reforms in his city, which is under a federal consent decree. Baraka is leading the fight for securing subpoena powers for civilian complaint review boards, a case now before the state Supreme Court.

“I’m the mayor of the largest city in the state, predominately Black and brown. Most of our residents want police officers. They want police officers in their neighborhoods; they want safety, they want security. What they don’t want is their children shot to death in front of recreation centers for playing with water guns, or people choked to death for selling cigarettes, or people with their knee on your neck until you die for $20,” Baraka said.

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