On Monday, June 13, 2022 at 10 a.m. the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will consider Senate Bill No. S2742. Section 17 of the bill would require every police chief to file a report whenever an officer is hired, fired, resigns, retires or takes an extended leave of absence. The reports would also require police chiefs to list, for example, whether an officer is disciplined, suspended for more than five days, has a finding of bias or bigotry, used excessive force, is unfit for duty or has pending criminal, disorderly persons or drunk-driving charges against him or her. The bill also requires police chiefs to submit additional supporting information and documentation, as may be required. (A complete list of the information sought to be required is set forth in Section 17 which is on page 16 of the bill at the above link.)

The problem with the bill is that it says that: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the completed forms and information submitted to the commission pursuant to this section shall not constitute a public record under [the Open Public Records Act] or any court decision, or a government record subject to access pursuant to [the Open Public Records Act].”

In other words, if S2742 passes, there will be a central repository of all the information the public needs to know about police officers, but the public will not be able to access that information.

Anyone wishing to testify on the bill can attend the meeting Committee in Room 10, 3rd Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ. Anyone who wishes to submit written testimony can do so by sending it to [email protected]. In addition to (or instead of) testifying, interested members of the public can contact their representatives in the Senate and General Assembly. A list of them is on-line here.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]