NJ joins 46 other states to require officers to hold licenses
SECAUCUS, NJ — All New Jersey law enforcement officers will now be required to hold valid, active licenses in order to be an active duty officer under a new law signed by Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday.
New Jersey will become the 47th state to establish a police licensing program.
"This police licensing program will, formally and finally, recognize all who serve in law enforcement in our state as the specially trained and highly skilled professional they are,” said Murphy. “Officers holding these licenses will be proven professionals who fulfill their duties with honesty and integrity, helping law enforcement strengthen and rebuild the bonds of trust between police and residents in the communities they serve, especially in our Black and Brown communities.”
The Police Training Commission (PTC), which establishes statewide law enforcement standards, voted unanimously in June 2020 to create a statewide police licensing program, recognizing that over 40 states across the country use a form of decertification or licensing for law enforcement officers.
The law is part of the Murphy Administration's effort to help build public trust in law enforcement. The police licensing program will require all law enforcement officers to meet certain uniform professional standards to become, or continue to be, an active law enforcement officer in the state.
"One of the strongest commitments of the Murphy Administration has been to ensure the continued excellence and success of New Jersey’s law enforcement officers, while promoting a culture statewide of professionalism, transparency, and accountability," said Acting Attorney General Platkin.
“The licensing of law enforcement officers throughout New Jersey provides an additional layer of professionalism and accountability to the men and women who take an oath to serve and protect the citizens of this great state,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
To better protect the health, safety, and welfare of all citizens, the legislation would grant the PTC the ability and responsibility to monitor and take appropriate actions against the licenses of any law enforcement officer who acts outside the bounds of professional standards or engages in illegal or improper conduct.
Conduct that could lead to the revocation or non-issuance of a license could include:
- Conviction of any crime in NJ, or any other state, territory, country, or of the U.S.;
- Conviction of an act of domestic violence;
- Conviction of any offense that would preclude an officer from carrying a firearm;
- Two or more motor vehicle offenses for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or two of more motor vehicle offenses for reckless driving;
- Being an active member of a group that advocates for the violent overthrow of the government or for discrimination based on classes protected by the Law Against Discrimination (LAD); and
- Conduct or behavior in the officer’s personal or professional life such as making statements, posting, sharing, or commenting in support of any posting, on social media, or otherwise, that demonstrates, espouses, advocates or supports discrimination or violence against, or hatred or bias toward individuals or groups based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other protected characteristic under the “Law Against Discrimination.”
Officers will be subject to renew their licenses three years after issuance.
"The creation and implementation of a statewide licensure program for law enforcement officers is essential, as it will set requirements and minimum standards for all police at all levels,” said Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), who was a sponsor of the law. “I truly believe that uniform professional standards will help build public trust and ensure that proper policing is occurring across New Jersey."
Various other New Jersey professionals are required to hold licensing is used in various other contexts, and occupations such as teachers, doctors, electricians, and counselors, among others, are subject to licensing requirements that provide the public with appropriate assurance of professionalism, qualification, and accountability.