New Jersey Police Departments to Enact Reforms

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaks during a news conference in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey police will soon have new guidelines and trainings around when it is acceptable to use force, the local news site NJ.com reported.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said on Monday that these new rules, effective beginning December 31st, 2021, are meant to protect “the sanctity of human life.”

The position of Attorney General in New Jersey has significant oversight and power over the state’s police department, which is unique to the state.

Police officers will not be allowed to use force to speed up an arrest, set a police dog on a suspect unless they’re dangerous, and cannot restrain someone in a way that would impede their breathing, such as putting pressure on their chests or necks.

Officers also have new rules regarding car chases; officers cannot give chase over a speeding infraction, and cannot fire at a car unless there is a risk the driver in the other car is going to harm people.

All force from the police, from physical restraining to shooting, must be recorded and filed into a database within 24 hours. Officers are required to provide an explanation as to why they acted with force. These databases will be scrutinized to ensure no department is using disproportionate force.

The portal will be available to the public as well.

After any use of force, police are required to be prepared to dispense medical help, and officers are encouraged to bring along a mental health counselor to a situation where someone is having a mental health crisis.

County prosecutors have been directed by Grewal to study how police interact with people with special needs.

“Today is another major step toward addressing the gap in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement.