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Matt Platkin speaks at the announcement that he will be the new attorney general of New Jersey on February 3, 2022. (Photo: Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office).

N.J. police officers would have to hold state licenses under proposed program

Murphy, Platkin announce plan with support from legislators, police organizations

By Joey Fox, May 18 2022 3:13 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy and acting Attorney General Matt Platkin jointly announced this morning that they will work with the state legislature to create a statewide police licensing program, under which all law enforcement officers would have to hold Police Training Commission (PTC) licenses certifying their ability to serve in the state of New Jersey.

“I am honored to announce that we will be joining the overwhelming number of states who have established a police licensing program as a requirement for all law enforcement officers,” Murphy said. “These licenses should be held with honor as they show that these officers have been through rigorous training and have upheld what it means to be a law enforcement officer to the highest professional standards.”

According to Murphy’s and Platkin’s announcement, more than 40 states currently have some police licensing system. The proposed legislation would add New Jersey to that list, authorizing the PTC to issue licenses dependent on passing a psychological evaluation, keeping up with training requirements, and not being a member of insurrectionist or discriminatory organizations; the PTC would also have the ability to suspend or revoke licenses following a hearing.

​​“The statewide licensure of our law enforcement officers is a crucial next step in strengthening community-police relationships,” Platkin said. “This proposed legislation consolidates best practices from around the country to create a true national model – a licensing program that will ensure the continued excellence of our dedicated law enforcement professionals.”

Several key legislators joined the announcement and lauded the proposal, including State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Assemblyman William Spearman (D-Camden), who chair their respective chambers’ Law and Public Safety Committees, as well as Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge).

Critically, the proposal also appears to have buy-in from both advocacy groups and police organizations. Richard Smith, the president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, called the proposal “long overdue,” while New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan said his organization supported the plan.

 “This licensing program will provide transparency to the communities we serve and will hold our officers accountable in order to maintain a high professional standard and provide the due process they deserve,” Colligan said. “When our badges are tarnished by bad actors in our profession, it makes us all look bad.”

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