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New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Appellate panel clears Grewal police discipline directive

State can move forward with plan to release identities of disciplined officers, judges say

By Nikita Biryukov, October 16 2020 11:33 am

A three-judge appellate panel on Friday upheld Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directive ordering police departments to release information about major disciplinary incidents against police officers over the last 20 years.

“Today’s decision marks a new day for police transparency and accountability in New Jersey,” Grewal said. “As I’ve said all along, the vast majority of law enforcement officers do great work and adhere to the high standards we set for them. So, when officers fall short, we need to take those infractions seriously and we need to be candid with the public.”

The attorney general issued the directive following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes.

The directive requires every police department in the state to disclose the identities of officers who were terminated, demoted or suspended for five or more days as part of a disciplinary proceeding over the last 20 years.

The move met heavy resistance from police unions, who claimed it would endanger officers for what they said were often administrative offenses.

“The ruling today that supports the Attorney General’s decree is yet another attack against the good men and women in law enforcement serving communities honorably throughout New Jersey,” New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association President Pat Colligan said. “The Attorney General should know that there is very little benefit to publicly shaming law enforcement officers past and present.”

Appellate Judges Francis Veronia, Allison Accurso and Mitchel Ostrer presided over the case, which saw amici briefs filed by a slew of good government groups and many of the state’s police unions.

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