Rice/Turner Measure To Create ‘Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act Of 2009’ Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Shirley K. Turner, which would create an Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards within the Department of Law and Public Safety was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.

“After hearing from the Advisory Council on Police Standards, as well as State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, it is evident that strides have been made to help curb racial profiling by law enforcement here in New Jersey,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, a former Newark detective. “The creation of this new office is necessary to help this progress continue.”

“This bill would help to make sure that law enforcement follows all of the proper procedures when conducting routine traffic stops,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “This is about ensuring that old racial profiling practices are a thing of the past. All motorists who choose to use New Jersey’s roadways should be treated fairly and with respect.”

Under the Senators’ measure, S-2868, the Office of Professional Standards would be charged with the responsibility of promoting and ensuring compliance with the State Police policy that prohibits law enforcement from targeting motorists based on race, national or ethnic origin. The director of the office would be appointed by and report directly to the Attorney General.

The Office would be authorized to conduct operations audits and independent analyses of data to identify any potential disparity in law enforcement or other problems that could affect the integrity of motor vehicle stops. The Office would also have the authority to review all aspects of the State Police policies concerning motor vehicle stops, post-stop enforcement actions, supervision of patrol activities, training provided to the patrol troops of the State Police, the conduct of investigations of alleged misconduct and other internal affairs matters by the Division of State Police.

The Office would be required to prepare semi-annual public reports including statistics on State Police traffic enforcement activities and procedures, separated by barracks and providing data on the race and ethnicity of the civilians involved. The Attorney General would be required to report, on an annual basis to the Governor, the Legislature and the public on the implementation of the bill’s requirements.

This measure now heads to the Governor’s desk, where his signature would make it State law.

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