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Turner Bill to Strengthen Community Relations With Law Enforcement Now Law

Senator Turner discussing a bill on the Senate floor.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner to establish and make available to law enforcement agencies cultural diversity training materials and an online tutorial established by the Department of Law and Public Safety was signed into law today.

“I am pleased that this legislation is now a law. Many organizations use diversity training, and inevitably, making these programs available to our police officers will help them to better serve and protect our residents and facilitate better understanding between our police and the communities they serve,” said Senator Turner (D Hunterdon/Mercer). “Diversity training is a strategy that can improve the way policing is delivered in New Jersey by helping to minimize misunderstandings and misconceptions.”

S-1142 requires the Department of Law and Public Safety to develop or identify uniform cultural diversity training course materials and an online tutorial that will include instruction designed to promote positive interaction with, and community outreach to, all residents within a community, including residents of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals residing within the community.

The training course materials and online tutorial will be made available to every State, county and municipal law enforcement department in the State and to each campus police department at an institution of higher education in the State.

The bill signing comes as a result of recommendations from the governor, which was contained in a conditional veto. The original bill required every county and municipal police department in the state to establish a cultural diversity training course and plan. This law now requires that cultural diversity training materials will be made available for police departments after a uniform program is established by the Department of Law and Public Safety.

“When police officers learn best practices for interacting with an array of individuals from different backgrounds, it helps to improve relationships and build trust with members of the community,” said Senator Turner. “New Jersey is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the nation and cultural and diversity training is a best practice that should be included in their training. This law will help to make their job easier.”

S-1142 cleared the Senate by a vote 38-0. The Assembly approved it 65-12-1.

This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment.

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