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Assemblyman William W. Spearman at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Police licensing program cleared by Assembly committee

Murphy, Platkin want licensing for all N.J. law enforcement officers

By George Christopher, June 02 2022 7:30 pm

The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee has advanced a bill that would create a statewide police licensing program, an idea proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy and acting Attorney General Matt Platkin two weeks ago.

If the program is enacted, all law enforcement officers in New Jersey would have to be licensed by the Police Training Commission, a process which would include training requirements and a psychological evaluation. Officers would also be barred from promoting the violent overthrow of the government or discrimination against protected classes.

Platkin himself testified in front of the committee today, saying the measure would benefit the vast majority of police officers and would maintain the reputation of New Jersey cops.

“I believe that we stand at the precipice of a great reform which will benefit law enforcement and our communities,” he said.

The proposal has received support from a variety of groups, including the New Jersey PBA, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and the ACLU.

However, police groups were not universal in their support. Two members of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) spoke at today’s hearing, saying that while the FOP was supportive of licensing, they felt the current bill was flawed because it excluded certain groups of officers, like campus and transit police, and because it would create what they considered an unfair review process.

The measure, which was sponsored by Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton), Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson), and William Spearman (D-Camden), ultimately passed the committee by a 6-1 vote; Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) was the only dissenter.

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