New Jersey lawmakers advance bill to stop police from being fired for making too few arrests

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NEW JERSEY – A piece of legislation that was proposed back in February of 2020, was advanced on December 11th by lawmakers in New Jersey. This proposal would ban police departments from evaluating officers based upon the number of arrests or citations they issue. 

There’s an old expression that, while cliché, still rings true, “quality over quantity.” 

 The New Jersey Senate bill 1322 hosts that very sentiment. 

The language from the proposal’s “statement” reads as follows: 

“This bill prohibits law enforcement agencies from using the volume of an officer’s arrests or citations as a factor when evaluating that officer’s overall performance or when making personnel determinations such as promotions, demotions and other benefits of employment.”

“The bill provides that a law enforcement agency may collect, analyze and apply information concerning the number of arrests and citations for the purpose of forwarding that information to the Superintendent of State Police for inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report.”

“Under current law, State and local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from establishing policies requiring officers to meet quotas for arrests and citations in enforcing the State’s motor vehicle code.”

“However, these agencies may consider arrest and citation data as part of the officer’s overall performance evaluation. This bill prohibits this practice.”

Obviously – when it comes to legislative endeavors – proposals get inundated with verbiage which can sometimes obfuscate the meaning to “Average Joe” readers. 

So, in the simplest terms, here’s what the proposal aims to accomplish. 

When performing an officer’s review, however often, superiors cannot take into account the number of arrests the officer has made nor the number of tickets that have been issued when evaluating the officer’s performance. 

What they can do is look into the arrests/citations themselves (quality vs. quantity).

This is a ruling that is inherently a good thing, as police officers should be championed on common-sense citations and solid arrests. 

What this bill would also accomplish is to prevent officers from being disciplined based on arrest and citation numbers alone; the words “demotions and other benefits of employment” were included in the bill’s language. 

Also, this is an aspect extremely beneficial to policing in New Jersey, because it rewards what’s known as the High Visibility Enforcement approach in policing. 

For those unaware of the HVE approach to policing, an example of HVE policing is when an police officer is in plain sight on the highway. This is a tactic used to discourage speeding. 

With regard to Senate bill 1322, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee approved the proposal in a 6-0 vote. 

Senator Shirley Turner, a co-sponsor of the bill, noted that police officers “are all too often pressured to write more tickets to increase revenue and help municipalities balance their budgets.”

In an effort to tackle the possible problem, as it’s unclear whether it was illusory or something genuinely plaguing policing in New Jersey, Senator Turner figured it’s best to address what could be a “written or unwritten” policy in policing. 

This bill still has some traveling to do before it can become a bona fide law. The proposal will need to pass the full Senate and Assembly before it can make it’s way to the governor’s desk.

While this iteration of police reform in New Jersey sounds as though it may actually alleviate stress from police officers, not all forms of “police reform” are created equal. 

Take for instance New York City. 

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We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on how the post-defunding of the NYPD has affected the city’s homeless population and police responses in relation to them. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – According to data recently obtained by the New York Post, the adverse effects associated with the defunding of the NYPD, by $1 billion, has resulted in a problem that wasn’t exactly on many people’s radar. 

As it turns out, issues revolving around vagrant-related complaints have increased after the NYPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit disbanded earlier in the year due to budget cuts. 

With nearly 2,486 complaints having been filed in the past five months related to vagrancy issues without any police action, there’s reportedly growing frustration towards the Department of Homeless Services. 

Apparently, the Department of Homeless Services was meant to take the helm after the NYPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit was effectively disbanded after the budget cuts earlier in 2020, but there are looming allegations that the department is doing little to nothing when 311 calls come in. 

Accusations swirling around the aftermath of police defunding, allege that the NYPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit was cut without city officials having a concrete plan to transition the responsibilities over to the Department of Homeless Services. 

An official who’s familiar with the matter expressed sentiments: 

“City Hall took the responsibility away from the [Police] Department but the city never developed or implemented the plan by DHS to handle additional homelessness calls.”

Police Benevolent Association President, Pat Lynch, mirrored those frustrations about there being a lack of a plan by elected officials after absolving the NYPD from homeless outreach endeavors: 

“Like so many other issues, homeless outreach landed in cops’ laps because the politicians had no other plan to solve the problem. Now, they’re taking responsibilities and resources away from the NYPD, but they still don’t have a plan.”

Manhattan’s West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue is said to be one of the areas most heavily impacted by the disbanding of the NYPD’s HOU. 

Nancy Lowe, a 90-year-old woman who has lived in the area since 1968, described one local homeless man that has been causing issues without any sort of police response to these instances: 

“He is quite vociferous. He yells and he screams…It was getting better but now it’s getting worse. The police do not come around anymore.”

Another woman, identified only as Grace M., has been living in the area for 68 years. She cited that there has been a spike of maybe “80 to 90 percent” of homeless people inhabiting the area: 

“Nobody is doing anything. It’s just a deterioration of the neighborhood…It seems like what I saw in the ‘80s.”

Detectives’ Endowment Association President, Paul DiGiacomo, was among those that pointed the proverbial finger towards politicians that performed a knee-jerk reaction to protests related to defunding the police: 

“There’s no doubt that the city’s ever-increasing homeless population deserves proper services, but the ill-advised rush by politicians to ‘defund the police’ comes with consequences.”

DiGiacomo claimed that these performative moves aimed at appeasing protesters is merely just servicing toward whatever the Twitter hashtag of the week is: 

“Now that these same elected officials have moved on to the next trending hashtag — New Yorkers are left to suffer.”

Avery Cohen, who serves as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first deputy press secretary, didn’t exactly deny that 311 calls aren’t being tended to properly, she merely conveyed that the issues are being “addressed”: 

“The vast number of 311 calls expressing concerns about street conditions continue to be addressed, even amid the City’s new vision for homeless outreach and the ongoing transition between city agencies.”

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