TRENTON — State officials are launching a program in Atlantic City, Millville, Trenton and Paterson to study the feasibility of a statewide crisis intervention program, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Tuesday.
“Like so many Americans at this difficult time, I’m still reeling from the footage of George Floyd’s murder,” Grewal said during Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily COVID-19 media briefing. “Like so many Americans, I, too, am angry. Like so many Americans, I’m angry that a white officer suffocated a black resident in broad daylight. I’m angry that three officers watched and did nothing. I’m angry that these officers disgraced their entire profession and undermined the good work that so many others perform on a daily basis.”
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Floyd’s death “reminds us that our country has a long way to go, not only in healing our nation’s racial divides, but also in addressing the systemic and implicit biases that affect all Americans,” Grewal said.
“The ability to quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness is critical for Atlantic City police officers,” said Atlantic City police Chief Henry White. “With a large homeless population, officers are routinely interacting with individuals who are experiencing mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. We have created exceptional partnerships with our local mental health providers and have four designated community outreach officers. The expansion of the crisis intervention training will better serve our community by continuing to build on those relationships.”
“My office has supported CIT training for all of our departments, including Millville, for several years,” said Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae. “Training more officers will increase our ability to address mental health appropriately and ultimately make our community safer.”
Grewal also said he supports a licensing program for police officers, similar to what is required of doctors to practice in the state.
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“Because just as we license doctors, nurses, lawyers, hundreds of other professions, we must ensure that all officers meet a baseline level of professionalism,” he said. “And we must ensure that those who cannot meet this standard can’t work in New Jersey.”
Officials also are expanding a statewide use-of-force database, opening it up to departments around the state next month, Grewal said, and updating the state’s use-of-force policy, which hasn’t changed in two decades.