Virus Outbreak New Jersey Testing

Camden County Police Officer Rodriguez wears a protective mask as she directs people to a COVID-19 testing facility in Camden, N.J., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. — AP Photo/Matt Rourke

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey will aim to increase racial diversity among law enforcement officers under new legislation Gov. Phil Murphy signed Tuesday.

The bill passed the Democrat-led Legislature with no opposition in June. The measure requires the state's Civil Service Commission to implement programs to make law enforcement more representative and equitable.

Among the measures listed in the bill is a mandate to analyze the racial composition of police agencies in the state, with the goal of identifying those that could benefit from eliminating hiring preferences based on applicants' residency. The bill's sponsors have said they want to be sure that the racial makeup of police forces reflect the demographics of the towns they work in.

The governor also on Tuesday signed an executive order creating the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging within his own office.

Leading the new office will be Jayné Johnson, who served as a senior policy analyst at the Council of State Governments Justice Center in New York.

According to Murphy, a Democrat, the new office's responsibilities will include, overseeing training and ensuring anti-discrimination and anti-racist considerations are integrated into decision making in state government.

Murphy signed two other bills as well, one to require the Civil Service Commission to set up a mentoring program for law enforcement applicants who live in impoverished areas. The other new law requires the commission develop and maintain a database to collect and track background information on the background of all law enforcement officers and applicants. The database will be confidential and not open to the public.

"With today's executive order and bill signings, we are building on our commitment to advance equity for New Jerseyans who have been left behind for far too long," Murphy said in a statement.

Johnson said in a statement that the new role would allow the state to "build a more equitable and inclusive future."

The Associated Press


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