The state of New Jersey’s attorney general’s office made an unprecedentedly bold move recently when they published the names of more than 200 police officers that were punished for misconduct in the second half of 2020. This broke from a long-held New Jersey tradition of withholding officers’ names when reporting misconduct.
If you’re surprised that over 200 officers were disciplined for misconduct in only half of 2020, you are not alone. The nationwide move to root out police brutality in recent years inspired the move to publish the officer’s names — and the fact that there were so many rather makes the point that there are still miles to go to end police abuses.
There was immediate pushback
The action immediately resulted in multiple lawsuits filed to fight the move towards transparency. Police unions complained in their suit that the move was purely political. Time and again, the courts upheld the right of attorney general Gurbir Grewal to publish the names, and the state Supreme Court ruled that attorney general Grewal did not overstep his role in releasing the names.
What this means for officers and citizens
Opponents claim that publicizing the misconduct of officers is not fair and the information can be “weaponized” to shame officers and harm future employment opportunities. However, citizens retort that when simply arrested for a charge their names are often published in the news. This bold move towards transparency levels the playing field for both citizens and officers.
Attorney general Grewal said his move was an attempt to stop the practice of “protecting the few to the detriment of the many.” Law enforcement is meant to function as protectors and servants of the citizenry. The public being aware that officers too get arrested for infractions, like drunk driving, can help to see police officers are just as human as the people that they protect and serve.
When the police abuse their power
Abuse of power by law enforcement is never acceptable. If a New Jersey citizen has been harmed by the misconduct of officers, it can be beneficial to find out more about how you can protect your rights and hold public servants accountable for their actions.