MORRIS COUNTY — To the Citizens of Morris County:
The topics of police reform and de-funding the police are still hot button issues both locally and nationwide. However, on behalf of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association, I would like to a few moments to tell you why policing in Morris County is “A Step Ahead” of our counterparts nationwide. While we do realize that we are not always perfect, we do strive for perfection and out of that we have achieved excellence. As chiefs, we continue to look for better ways to police our communities while strengthening our relationships and trust within the communities we serve.
Internal Affairs and Early Warning Process:
Allegations of police misconduct are always taken seriously and investigated by Internal Affairs Officers and depending on the nature of the allegation they are investigated by the Morris County Prosecutors Office Professional Standards Unit. Each police department is required to post on its website information regarding the complaint process and how to file a citizen complaint. Early Warning Systems were developed to track problem behaviors and to identify “at-risk-officers” so that corrective actions can be taken before serious problems develop and have been in effect since 2013.
All police officers in the State of New Jersey must complete the NJ Basic Police Academy Course and receive certification from the Police Training Commission. The police academy is a 20-week training program consisting of comprehensive classroom and hands-on training in police procedures, physical training, and criminal law. This is just the beginning of an officer’s life long career of perpetual training. Officers then go through a Field Training Program with a mentor before they are released to work as a fully certified officer. The NJ Attorney Generals Office has mandated yearly training in subject areas of Use of Force, Firearms, Pursuit Training, Domestic Violence, and Community Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations (CLEAR) training. The CLEAR training program was instituted in 2016 and officers must take at least three credit hours of continuing education each year. Since the CLEAR Program’s inception was instituted in 2016 and officers must take at least three credit hours of continuing education each year. Since the CLEAR Program’s inception officers have completed classes in De-Escalation Techniques for Individuals with Special Needs/Mental Health Issues, Cultural Diversity and De-Escalation, Sex Assault Investigations. 2020 is an elective year and officers will be completing a course titled: Law Enforcement Interactions with Transgender Individuals.
Crisis Intervention Team:
Morris County police officers have always had a great partnership with mental health professionals throughout the county. We welcome the Attorney General’s Office initiative to expand the training between mental health professionals and officers to reduce use-of-force and death-in custody incidents.
Licensing for Police Officers:
The Morris County Police Chiefs Association fully supports the NJ Police Training Commission to create a statewide police licensing program. This program requires officers to maintain uniform professional standards to work as a police officer in New Jersey. This would be another valuable tool in our toolbox to vet our prospective new officers.
Use of Force Policy Review and Portal:
New Jersey’s Use of Force Policy is due for a review, and we support the notion of a Use of Force Portal to allow for a meaningful analysis for use-of-force data across the state to ensure that we are following best practices. There is a public comment portal for the public to weigh in on by clicking here which will be open to submissions until August 1, 2020. We encourage you to complete the survey.
Directive 2020-5-Requiring Public Disclosure of Identities of Officers who Commit Serious Disciplinary Violations:
The members of the Morris County Chief Association do not support this new directive because it truly does not serve the public interest of transparency and accountability. Some “good” officers may have made minor administrative infractions and through the process of progressive discipline would now be labeled as “bad cops” even though they never committed an egregious act that would bring disrespect to their badge and agency. If allowed to stand, this directive will give the public a distorted view of the officers and departments in the state. There are also concerns for officers and their families regarding the release of their names that need further discussion. Several of the police unions have successfully filed for a stay on releasing the names of officers and the matter will be heard in October by the Appellate Division. On Friday, July 10th, the NJ Supreme Court has denied the Attorney Generals’ request to overturn the Appellate Court’s stay.
The notion of de-funding the police seriously jeopardizes your safety and all of the proactive measures that police departments in Morris County have already taken to be a “step ahead”. In fact, we need more training for our officers and equipment like body-worn cameras to better serve you. Unfortunately, the training and equipment do come with a cost to you, the local taxpayer and many municipalities simply can’t afford those added expenses right now without additional funding from the State of New Jersey.
The police officers in Morris County work hard to maintain the highest level of integrity, professionalism, compassion, service, and efficiency. It is our mission to protect life and property, enforce the law fairly and impartially and to preserve the peace, order, and safety in our community. The officers in Morris County do just that and are the best there is, working tirelessly day and night to ensure your safety. We trust them completely, believe in them, and are extremely proud of them, as we are proud to serve you as well.
Chief Thomas Williver
President of the Morris County Chief of Police Association