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We Did It: Community Led First Responder Bill Passed Senate & Assembly Floor Vote

For Immediate Release

January 8, 2024

Contact: Racquel Romans-Henry

Trenton, NJ -- Today, in response to the Senate & Assembly Floor Vote, Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Founder and Director of Salvation and Social Justice, issued the following statement:

"In 2019, Salvation and Social Justice held a series of public hearings in cities across the state to document the experiences of Black communities throughout New Jersey when interfacing with the police. Each emotional account described some degree of violence, abuse, or misconduct at the hands of police by residents. These collective accounts, justified by the Force Report, a 16-month investigation on statewide police use of force, were the beginnings of a larger conversation around policing in this state and tasked residents with reimagining what public safety in our communities should and could look like. THE TRAGIC LOSS OF OUR BELOVED BROTHERS NAJEE SEABROOKS AND ANDREW WASHINGTON WAS FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT A COMMUNITY LED APPROACH TO THE STATE’S  MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS WAS A MORAL IMPERATIVE. 

The successful passing of Senate Bill 4250 is a full circle moment and one that was only possible because of the collective loss, collective outcry, and collective work of the community. This is a bill that acknowledges credible messengers as a critical tool in the holistic health and wellness of our most vulnerable communities and meets that acknowledgment with a commitment to resource this invaluable work. Today is a victory for those who dare to reimagine. Today is a victory for those who believe in community controlled public safety. 

We want to extend our appreciation and immense gratitude to Senate President Scutari and Assembly Speaker Coughlin; the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Spearman, Assemblywoman Sumter, Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson, and Senators Beach, Greenstein and Ruiz for their leadership in championing this important legislation;  community leaders and advocate partners for their unyielding support and commitment to justice and equity; and to the directly impacted families who despite unspeakable loss displayed the courage to stand for communities throughout. 

We look forward to the “Seabrooks-Washington Community-Led Crisis Response Act” receiving the Governor’s signature, which would honor the lives of Najee and Andrew, as well as all those lives that were needlessly lost."

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