TRENTON – A bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the volume of an officer’s arrests or citations as a factor when evaluating that officer’s overall professional performance or when making personnel determinations was passed out of the full Senate.
The bill, S-1322, sponsored by Senators Shirley Turner and Dawn Addiego, is being advanced amid a backdrop of racial and social justice movements across the country that have called into question the ways in which law enforcement officers are trained, evaluated and held accountable for their actions.
Under the legislation, a law enforcement agency may collect, analyze and apply information concerning officers’ number of arrests and citations for the purpose of forwarding that information for inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report, but would be disallowed from using the data gathered in any manner that would give way to so-called “quotas,” in policing or pressuring officers to meet them.
“We have seen for too long the way that perceived or real efforts by some officers to achieve ‘quotas’ in order to attain higher evaluations through the sheer number of arrests and citations can have a detrimental effect on our communities. Additionally, officers are all too often pressured to write more tickets to increase revenue and help municipalities balance their budgets,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon / Mercer). “These policies, whether written or unwritten, have fallen hardest upon low-income individuals and people of color, who are arrested and ticketed at much higher proportions than others. As we work to advance issues of social justice and create a more equitable criminal justice system, we hope this bill can put an end to these ill-conceived practices once and for all.”
Under current law, State and local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from establishing policies requiring officers to meet quotas for arrests and citations in enforcing the State’s motor vehicle code. However, these agencies may consider arrest and citation data as part of the officer’s overall performance evaluation; the bill prohibits that practice altogether.
“Though ticket quotas for law enforcement officers have long been illegal in New Jersey, this bill closes a loophole where the practice in some cases has been allowed to continue,” said Addiego, (D-Atlantic / Burlington / Camden). “This will make for better policing, and build greater trust between officers and the communities they serve.”
The bill was passed out of the full Senate by a vote of 25-1.