NJ AG announces new use of force policy changes for law enforcement
New Jersey police officers are being given new rules when it comes to use of force.
The changes were announced by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
In the wake of George Floyd's death, demands have been made nationwide to change use of force protocols and training for police.
As of today, New Jersey is the first to make statewide changes.
In 2020, George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, sparked a movement. In response, Grewal is working with state police. The PBA and community leaders are taking the lead.
"By the end of next year, all of our officers will go through a multi-day, immersive training program on de-escalation," Grewal said.
Over 20 years ago, the last time use of force policy was changed, de-escalation was not a focus of training.
Grewal says there will also be new bans on somee common practices. There will be no more chokeholds, strikes to the head, no extensive kneeling on someone's neck or back, and no shooting at moving vehicles.
Another focus of training will be on addressing those in mental health crises. It's backed by data that shows 25% of all fatal public-police interactions involve someone in mental health crisis.
"The new policy prohibits all forms of physical force against a civilian, except as a last resort," Grewal said.
To that end, in non-violent situations, a mental health specialist will be called into a situation before police.
Recently, there were two incidents in New Jersey that have called use of force into question.
In Asbury Park, Hasani Best was shot and killed in his home while holding a knife. In Ventnor, Amir Johnson was shot in an incident of apparent suicide by police officer.
In addition, the changes call for a portal where officers will have to document each use of force, which will be made public.
Rev. Charles Boyer, of Salvation and Social Justice, was part of this process.
"We see this as a necessary first step toward accountability," Boyer said.
Grewal said these changes start in 2022 after police are trained. He said the goal here is the respect for life and dignity for all life in every instance.