TOMS RIVER, NJ – The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a stay in favor of the New Jersey State PBA in their fight against Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. A plan by the two state leaders called for a public list of all officers who have committed infractions in the past 20 years.
Now Grewal is seeking to have the Supreme Court decision overturned, but his request was denied by the court.
“Late last night, the Attorney General filed an emergency request in the Supreme Court asking the Court to dissolve the stay and allow him to enforce his directives and release the information,” the PBA said. “Minutes ago, the Supreme Court denied the Attorney General’s request. This means that the Attorney General and all law enforcement agencies cannot release personnel information pending a decision from the Appellate Division later this year.”
This means there will be no public list just yet.
Calling it a “great first step”, New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today released the following statement thanking the Appellate Division for granting the request by the State PBA and a number of other law enforcement unions for a stay of the Attorney General’s Directives requiring law enforcement agencies to release the names of law enforcement officers who were issued major discipline since 2000.
A number of law enforcement agencies intended to release and publish this information by July 15th. This means that law enforcement agencies cannot publish the names of law enforcement officers who have been issued major discipline and summaries of that discipline pending further order of the Court.
Colligan and the NJSPBA were among a number of concerned members of the law enforcement community who immediately rushed to the defense of members of law enforcement to ensure that confidential and personal files could not be simply released by fiat with no examination of the legality and potentially devastating consequences that will surely accompany the Attorney General’s decree.
“We have consistently said that we are willing to work with the Attorney General towards a resolution that is fair, just as we always have,” said Colligan. “In the absence of partnership that allows us all to root out bad actors without sacrificing individuals who will be unfairly ruined in the rush to secure a soundbite, we will continue to pursue any and all legal remedies. We know that this is an ongoing process, but this ruling is a great first step for our members and for the public at large.”
The case will be argued before the Appellate Division in October and the Appellate Division will issue a decision on whether to permanently stay the Attorney General’s Directives.
On June 24th, Grewal announced his list of bad police officers.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal ordered all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to begin publicly identifying officers who commit serious disciplinary violations. Under the order, going forward every state, county, and local law enforcement agency in New Jersey will be required to annually publish a list of officers who were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days due to a disciplinary violation, with the first list to be published no later than December 31, 2020.
Until now, the identities of officers subject to discipline have generally not been disclosed to the public unless they have faced criminal charges.
Grewals directive also permits law enforcement agencies to go further and identify officers who have committed serious disciplinary violations in the past. For instance, Attorney General Grewal, in conjunction with Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), announced that NJSP will publish a list of all State Troopers who have committed major disciplinary violations over the past twenty years. The historical list will be released publicly no later than July 15, 2020.
“For decades, New Jersey has not disclosed the identities of law enforcement officers who commit serious disciplinary violations,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement.”
“We cannot build trust with the public unless we’re candid about the shortcomings of our own officers,” said Colonel Callahan. “By releasing the names of State Troopers who committed serious disciplinary violations, we are continuing the long, hard work of earning and maintaining the trust of the communities we serve.”
Attorney General Grewal’s statewide order requires all state, county, and local law enforcement agencies to release, on at least an annual basis, the identities of law enforcement officers who have been terminated, demoted, or suspended for more than five days. Law enforcement agencies will be required to publish their first annual list no later than December 31, 2020.