Trenton – In an effort to keep ‘bad actors’ from being unwittingly hired by other law enforcement agencies, the Senate today cleared legislation that would require the release of officers’ personal history, including incidences of misconduct, when they apply for a position in another agency. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Shirley Turner.
“Police officers are given an immense amount of power and responsibility and the vast majority serve with honor and deference to the position,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “In cases where incidents do occur, however, it should be reviewable by any agency being asked to hire that person in the future. How can we expect agencies to weed out bad actors if they can’t review an applicant’s full history? When the public’s trust is on the line, no stone should be left unturned.”
The bill, S-1482/A-744, would codify and strengthen Attorney General Grewal’s December 2019 directive which required law enforcement agencies to provide internal affairs and personnel files of law enforcement officers to other law enforcement agencies.
“Police officers, quite literally at times, have the lives of our state’s most vulnerable in their hands,” said Senator Turner (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “It is incredibly important we are thoroughly vetting any individual bestowed with that badge, and in turn, the power that comes with it. This legislation will create greater oversight, transparency and accountability to prevent departments from hiring bad actors.”
The practice of allowing an officer to retire, rather than being fired, and maintaining their state credentials while they search for positions in other agencies is common enough to be dubbed the “muni shuffle”.
“Knowingly or unknowingly shuffling around individuals that abuse the privilege of wearing the badge is simply intolerable. It should never have been acceptable. However, in a moment when law enforcement’s role is being reexamined around the country, ensuring that bad behavior has consequences is an important part of rebuilding trust between police and our communities,” Senator Weinberg finished.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 38-0.