TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring county, municipal, and campus police departments to establish and have officers participate in cultural diversity training courses cleared the full Senate today.
“Cultural diversity training and outreach programs will help to facilitate better understanding between police and the communities they serve,” said Senator Turner (D Hunterdon/Mercer). “Diversity training is used by many organizations and stands to benefit the way policing is delivered in New Jersey by helping to minimize misunderstandings and misconceptions. Inevitably, it will help our police officers to better serve and protect our residents.”
S-1142 will require county, municipal, and campus police departments to establish, and officers to participate in, a cultural diversity training course that includes instruction and exercises designed to promote positive interaction with the racial, ethnic, and religious communities within each department’s respective jurisdiction. The training will be required to also include instruction and exercises designed to promote positive interaction with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals residing within each department’s jurisdiction. Each department would be required to adopt a cultural diversity action plan to include strategies for outreach programs that address the social and criminal concerns of the community, as well as efforts taken on behalf of the department in forming partnerships with various cultural religious and civic organizations, including those formed on the basis of preventing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“New Jersey is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the nation; however, that melting pot is not reflected in our police departments,” said Senator Turner. “Requiring cultural diversity training is a step in the right direction toward improving relationships and building trust between our police officers and members of the community. We need to be proactive in fighting crime, but we must also be proactive in preventing discrimination.”
S-1142 cleared the Senate by a vote 24-16. The Assembly approved it 48-25 in April. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.