Trenton – In an effort to continue to diversify New Jersey’s law enforcement ranks, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz introduced legislation that would establish a grant program for alternative police officer training for those with a demonstrated financial need.
The measure follows a Sweeney-sponsored bill signed into law earlier this year that permits a municipality to exempt entry-level law enforcement officers from the Civil Service examination requirement — an exemption that will serve to increase diversity in the ranks, so that it better reflects the state’s population.
“Before we can begin to more proactively diversify the ranks of our law enforcement officers, we must make sure all those who have the desire and discipline to wear the uniform, to ‘serve and protect,’ have an equal opportunity to do so,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This grant program will allow the best and brightest of New Jersey to compete fairly, and be able to undergo the training required without having to fret over its cost.”
“We removed a significant barrier to entry for aspiring law enforcement officers when we lifted the civil service requirement. Still, there is more that needs to be done to ensure our police forces accurately reflect the diversity of our state,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation will work to remove financial barriers standing before people who wish to protect and serve the people of New Jersey.”
A newly appointed board will identify and recruit potential candidates who stand in need of financial aid. That aid will include paying the costs of training that may be charged by the Police Training Commission or other approved schools. Applicants would have to demonstrate financial need, and would be required to have been a resident of the State for at least 12 months before receiving the grant.
The bill was introduced as S-3687.