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RCFP: New Jersey lawmakers should pass police transparency bill

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  1. Freedom of Information

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging top lawmakers in the New Jersey Legislature to prioritize and enact S. 2656, which would classify law enforcement disciplinary records as government records subject to public access, as well as mandate retention of the records.

“S. 2656 would help the news media fulfill its constitutionally recognized role to gather and report newsworthy information about the activities of government, including law enforcement,” the Reporters Committee said in a letter sent to New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on Oct. 20, 2020.

The bill would specifically make such records accessible to the press and public under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, while providing for redaction of certain sensitive information. Among other information and records, the bill would make public complaints against police officers, transcripts of disciplinary hearings and bodycam videos. The bill would also require the retention of disciplinary records for 20 years from the date of creation.

The letter follows the Reporters Committee’s written testimony submitted to the New Jersey Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee in July expressing support for the transparency bill.