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In response to the Department of Justice’s announcement today that it opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by the Trenton Police Department, Rev. Charles Boyer, Executive Director of Salvation and Social Justice, issues the following statement:
Salvation and Social Justice supports the decision of US Attorney Philip Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division to launch an investigation into the conduct and practices of the Trenton Police Department. Last month, we hosted a town hall with US Atty Sellinger at Greater Mt Zion A.M.E Church, the oldest Black Church in the City of Trenton. During that town hall, we had a mass showing of community members and advocate partners who shared the needs and concerns of the people of Trenton. The reoccurring theme expressed by residents was one of concern regarding the misconduct, violence, and over surveillance of Black communities at the hands of the Trenton police department. Today’s announcement is yet further evidence that the issue of policing in this state is not merely one of a few bad apples. If we are serious about reforming a system that is rooted in the unjust targeting and brutalization of Black communities, then we must see substantive policy change from lawmakers. During this lame-duck session, we are calling on lawmakers to advance common sense policy that would reduce unnecessary police interaction with our communities and holds those who have violated their oaths to protect and serve accountable.
We are calling for the Legislature to:
Introduce and advance Senate version of Assembly Bill 5326, which would establish, and resource community-led response teams throughout the state as an alternative to law enforcement responses for nonviolent substance use, behavioral and mental health calls;
We are calling for the Legislature to immediately codify the Attorney General’s Use of Force Directive which would significantly strengthen protections against Use of Force for people in the state beyond this current administration; and
We are calling for the Legislature to adopt a policy that would establish Community Civilian Review Boards possessing subpoena power; power to hold independent and concurrent investigations; community representation as well as discipline matrix.
SandSJ will continue to engage the community for feedback, ensuring that the voices of the directly impacted are centered as we continue to work towards a more just and equitable New Jersey for all its residents.