N.J. Assembly to vote on police reform measures next week

New Jersey Assembly chambers. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

New Jersey Assembly chambers. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

New Jersey General Assembly members plan to take up police reform when the lower house meets for a voting session on Monday afternoon.

A board list posted on the Legislature’s website on Thursday said lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a bill that would require local police departments to hold at least two community roundtable discussions each year.

Another bill would require local police departments to undergo diversity and implicit bias training.

“It’s a way to bridge that gap and foster a relationship between both parties, because no matter what, the community will be here, and the police will be here,” Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) said.

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McKnight is the primary sponsor of the community roundtable bill.

She has been vocal about police reform in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

The measure would require local police departments to sponsor two community roundtable discussions on “race relations and racial profiling; recruitment, selection, and retention of officers; training and education of recruits and supervisors, regulation of body worn cameras; and use of force, police misconduct and internal affairs investigations,” according to language in the bill.

It would also require State Police to hold one meeting in North, Central, and South Jersey.

Despite a failure by the entire legislature to pass comprehensive measures intended to address police accountability during the previous session, including McKnight’s bill to create a civilian review board with subpoena power, she said her position on the issue hasn’t wavered.

“With any piece of legislation, sometimes you have to work at it,” McKnight said.

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Lawmakers will also vote on a bill that would require police officers to undergo diversity and implicit bias training during basic training programs. Likewise, the Assembly will also take up another bill that would require state lawmakers, legislative officers, and employees to undergo similar training.

The latter is sponsored by McKnight and Assemblywomen Shanique Speight (D-29) and Britnee Timberlake (D-34). They are New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus members.

According to the bill, training topics would include implicit prejudice, implicit stereotypes, and cultural competency.

“It’s important that we understand the diversity within our state and how we engage and interact with them,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35).

Assembly Committees approved all three measures earlier this year.

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