The State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on June 25. The suit alleges Grewal’s orders to expose “Bad apple” cops will have a dangerous impact on those whose names have been disclosed. A directive given by Grewal required the New Jersey Division of State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the Juvenile Commission to disclose the names of all disciplined employees by July 15, 2020.
On June 15, Grewal issued a directive that requires every law enforcement agency in New Jersey to annually publish the names of officers that have been suspended for more than five days, demoted, or terminated with an explanation that led up to their disciplinary actions. Union officials are concerned for the safety of the people whose names are disclosed, fearing this will lead to attacks on both the officers and their families.
In a statement from Grewal’s office, a spokesperson that handles press related civil litigation said, “We believe transparency builds trust. We’re sorry to see the police unions disagree.”
In a strategic move to benefit the public, the directives given by the Attorney General are a reaction to the recent death of George Floyd. In his directive, Grewal is looking into disciplinary records that date back 20 years. This comes at a time when civil liberties and police brutality are in the forefront of the news. While advocates and activists are demanding transparency and calling for the defunding of police, union leaders are concerned that publicizing names could lead to both personal and family threats.
On a personal note, I have worked with the Attorney General on different initiatives to fight back against the opiate epidemic. Grewal is about fair treatment for all. While Grewal was the Bergen County Prosecutor, I saw his efforts to put a stop to human trafficking and put an end to homelessness. As an advocate for treatment and rehabilitation, I have never met anyone as concerned or caring as the New Jersey Attorney General. Nevertheless, there is an obvious need for a change. There needs to be an update in training, cultural competence, and disciplinary support. Perhaps there can be an option between the directives and the lawsuit to benefit both parties.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org