TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Shirley K. Turner, which creates the Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards within the Department of Law and Public Safety was signed into law today.
“Through the creation of this new office, this law will enable us to keep a closer eye on the progress that is being made to curb racial profiling here in New Jersey,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, a former Newark detective. “There is still some work left to be done, but we are moving closer to ensuring that all motorists are treated fairly and with dignity when using our roadways.”
“We count on police officers to protect our safety and well-being, but we also expect them to do so in a fair and unbiased fashion,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “This legislation is about ensuring that law enforcement officers follow the proper procedures when conducting routine traffic stops and dealing with the public in general.”
Under the Senators’ measure, S-2868, the Office of Professional Standards is 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 will be appointed by and report directly to the Attorney General.
The Office will be authorized to conduct operations audits and independent analyses of data to identify any potential disparities in law enforcement or other problems that could affect the integrity of motor vehicle stops. The Office will 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 will 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 will be required to report, on an annual basis to the Governor, the Legislature and the public on the implementation of the bill’s requirements.