Bill Text: NJ SCR132 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Calls for federal investigation of law enforcement misconduct under certain circumstances.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-10-19 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee [SCR132 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-SCR132-Introduced.html

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 132

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 19, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RONALD L. RICE

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Calls for federal investigation of law enforcement misconduct under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Concurrent Resolution calling for federal investigation of law enforcement misconduct.

 

Whereas, The State of New Jersey has a history of policy regarding the need for equitable, fair, and safe community policing that allows the community and local law enforcement agencies to work together to improve our communities; and

Whereas, Our nation is engaged in a critical discussion on gun violence and police misconduct, and the men, women, and children whose lives are lost in law enforcement officer involved shootings should not be ignored; and

Whereas, African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the total United States population, but accounted for 23 percent of those whose lives were lost in law enforcement involved shootings since 2015, according to the Washington Post; and

Whereas, The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and Stephon Clark are tragic losses of life that are unacceptable, and have damaged the community's relationship with those that are charged with their protection; and

Whereas, The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been charged with protecting civil rights in America, and is responsible for investigating color of law violations including those involving excessive use of force; and

Whereas, Color of law investigations also include sexual assault by police officers, false arrest, obstruction of justice, false testimony, deprivation of medical care, and failure to keep a citizen from harm; and

Whereas, In many of the communities throughout the United States where high-profile cases have taken place, there is a lack of trust in local law enforcement to perform a fair and impartial investigation of these incidences or an honest investigation on systematic issues that may be present in the department; and

Whereas, An investigation into a local law enforcement agency cannot be impartially handled by the local law enforcement agency itself, and an outside body is needed to perform a fair and impartial evaluation; and

Whereas, In New Jersey, the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability appoints an independent investigator to investigate criminal cases involving law enforcement use-of-force or in-custody deaths; and

Whereas, In those jurisdictions that do not require an independent investigation of alleged color of law violations, the federal government has a duty to conduct an independent investigation to protect civil rights; and

Whereas, These investigations can begin real change that could identify areas in need of improvement or allow the local law enforcement agency to begin a dialogue on how to improve policing and restore faith in the department; and

Whereas, A positive relationship between local law enforcement agencies and the communities that they represent is essential; and

Whereas, As law enforcement officer involved shootings can irreparably harm these relationships, communities and local law enforcement agencies need to work together to address any unjust actions by law enforcement officers immediately; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):

 

     1.    The Senate of the State of New Jersey calls for congressional action to ensure timely and independent federal investigations of alleged law enforcement misconduct in those jurisdictions that do not require independent investigations, and to work with those local law enforcement agencies that it identifies as having cultural or institutional biases that lead to strife with the communities they serve.

 

     2.    Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly or the Secretary of the Senate to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the Majority and Minority Leader of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, and each member of the United States Congress elected from New Jersey.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This concurrent resolution calls for federal investigation into instances of alleged law enforcement misconduct in those jurisdictions that do not require independent investigations.

     The State of New Jersey has a history of policy regarding the need for equitable, fair, and safe community policing that allows the community and local law enforcement agencies to work together to improve our communities.  Our nation is engaged in a critical discussion on gun violence and police misconduct, and the men, women, and children whose lives are lost in law enforcement officer involved shootings should not be ignored.  African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the total United States population, but accounted for 23 percent of those whose lives were lost in law enforcement involved shootings since 2015, according to the Washington Post.  The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and Stephon Clark are tragic losses of life that are unacceptable, and have damaged the community's relationship with those that are charged with their protection. 

     The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been charged with protecting civil rights in America, and is responsible for investigating color of law violations including those involving excessive use of force.  Color of law investigations also include sexual assault by police officers, false arrest, obstruction of justice, false testimony, deprivation of medical care, and failure to keep a citizen from harm.  In many of the communities where high-profile cases have taken place, there is a lack of trust in local law enforcement to perform a fair and impartial investigation of these incidences or an honest investigation on systematic issues that may be present in the department. 

     An investigation into a local law enforcement agency cannot be impartially handled by the local law enforcement agency itself, and an outside body is needed to perform a fair and impartial evaluation.  In New Jersey, the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability appoints an independent investigator to investigate criminal cases involving law enforcement use-of-force or in-custody deaths.  In those jurisdictions that do not require an independent investigation of alleged color of law violations, the federal government has a duty to conduct an independent investigation to protect civil rights.  These investigations could identify areas in need of improvement or allow the local law enforcement agency to begin a dialogue on how to improve policing and restore faith in the department. 

     A positive relationship between local law enforcement agencies and the communities that they represent is essential.  As law enforcement officer involved shootings can irreparably harm these relationships, communities and local law enforcement agencies need to work together to address any unjust actions by law enforcement officers immediately. 

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