TRENTON – Today, Governor Phil Murphy made his voice clear, saying police-involved shootings are happening because of implicit bias of the state’s law enforcement profession. Murphy signed into law a bill that requires all police officers to attend cultural diversity training. Murphy has not announced any plans to return civility towards police by his supporters or educational programs to help communities build trust in law enforcement, such as the measures taken several years ago in Camden.
Acting on a commitment to further reshape policing and strengthen community relations, Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (A3641), which requires the Department of Law and Public Safety to add implicit bias training to their cultural diversity training curriculum for law enforcement officers.
“For far too long, we have seen the spark of action after a police killing die down before meaningful change occurs, but not anymore,” said Senator Shirley Turner. “New Jersey has taken a proactive approach in addressing the racial injustices hampering our country, and this new law is a step in the right direction. It will result, ultimately, in better policing in our diverse communities.”
The bill would also make cultural diversity and implicit bias training mandatory and require every State, county and municipal law enforcement department to provide the training once every five years.
“To build upon on our progress to reshape policing, we must address the systemic and implicit biases that too often negatively impact relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Governor Murphy. “This action, among other critical reforms led by Attorney General Grewal, is a part of a comprehensive approach to ensure that New Jersey is second to none in demanding the highest standards of accountability and professionalism from our law enforcement officers.”
“Two years ago, we began the long, hard work of providing implicit bias training to the thousands of law enforcement officers and prosecutors who work in our Department, including at New Jersey State Police,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “This initiative required significant time and resources, but it was the right thing to do. This new law codifies these efforts so these trainings remain a permanent feature of the Department, and ensures that future Administrations continue our commitment to racial justice and excellence in policing.”
“I applaud Governor Murphy for his leadership on police reform, as this is a big step in the right direction,” said Jiles Ship, Commissioner of the New Jersey Police Training Commission and President of NOBLE New Jersey. “We are encouraged by his continued support of needed change in a very comprehensive way.”
Primary Sponsors of A3641 include Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Carol Murphy, and Britnee Timberlake, and Senators Linda Greenstein and Shirley Turner.
In a joint-statement, Assemblymembers Reynolds-Jackson, Murphy, and Timberlake said:
“Implicit bias is the automatic association people make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups. It has been shown to have significant influence on the outcomes of interactions between police and residents. Implicit bias can be expressed in relation to non-racial factors, including gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation and not only racial incidence. If there is any profession that cannot afford to have or show bias or discrimination in the act of doing their jobs, it’s law enforcement. The rise in police incidences resulting in death of men and women of color has sounded an alarm in communities throughout the nation. We must now focus on providing law enforcement agencies with the tools needed to train the officers to acknowledge implicit bias reactions and instead, keep ad impart compassion in their work in the diverse communities they serve.”
“New Jersey is not only one of the most densely populated states in the country, but we are also one of the most diverse. Forty-five percent of our residents are people of color, and this collection of cultures is one of our state’s greatest strengths and attributes,” said Senator Linda Greenstein. “We must continue to strengthen the cultural diversity and implicit bias training so our law enforcement officers are fully equipped to serve our diverse communities.”