State attorney general commits to revising Use of Force Policies

Online comment portal and statewide listening sessions announced

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal outlined plans for revising New Jersey’s Use of Force Policy, which governs when the state’s 36,000 law enforcement officers may and may not use force against civilians.

As part of that process, his office launched an online portal for public comments and will also organize community listening sessions in all 21 counties.

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On June 2, Grewal first announced his intention to revise the Use of Force Policy which would be the first update in two decades.

This comes after protests against police brutality and institutional racism occurred statewide following the murder of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died as an officer kneeled on his neck and back for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

The measure is part of the Attorney General’s Excellence in Policing initiative, policing reforms launched in December 2019 that aim to promote a culture of professionalism, accountability, and transparency in law enforcement agencies.

“The Use of Force Policy affects everyone, and so everyone should have the opportunity to weigh in on its revisions,” Grewal said. “We want to hear from a broad cross-section of our state: police officers, civil rights advocates, religious leaders, victims’ rights organizations, and community members. We especially want to hear from those who have had negative experiences with law enforcement officers, because we are committed to getting this right. By engaging residents across New Jersey, we will ensure that the updated policy reflects New Jersey’s values.”

Comment now

The public comment portal, available at, will accept submissions until Aug.1.

The portal allows residents to submit comments about any aspect of the Use of Force Policy, but specifically requests input on topics that will be discussed as part of the revision process.

These topics include tactics designed to subdue a person such as chokeholds, neck restraints, strikes to the head and face, and use of police dogs; engaging people with serious mental illness or substance abuse issues; exhausting all other reasonable means and pursuing de-escalation before resorting to deadly force; applying force proportionate to the persons alleged conduct like limiting the use of force when the subject has committed a nonviolent offense; less-than-lethal uses of force in which the AG’s office means use of bean bag shots, rubber bullets, and disabling netting; duty to intervene policies when another officer engages in excessive use of force; firing a weapon at a moving vehicle; high-speed car pursuits; reporting and training requirements; and any other proposals that reduce the risk of injury and death to individuals while also maintaining the safety of police officers.

Let your voice be heard

The revision process will include community listening sessions in all 21 counties.

Each of New Jersey’s County Prosecutors will host an in-person or virtual event to obtain the public’s view on police use of force which will be shared with the Attorney General as part of the revision process.

To kick off these statewide listening sessions, Grewal will host an online forum on June 24 to discuss New Jersey’s current Use of Force Policy and describe some of the revisions under consideration.

The Attorney General will be joined by Jonathan Parham, who served as the Chief of the Linden Police Department and now serves as the Director of Countywide Police Policy, Planning, and Training at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

Attendees can register for the online event at

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office will host its listening session on June 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. via its Facebook page on Facebook live.

Residents can email questions in advance or during the meeting to

Past directives

In New Jersey, the Attorney General has broad authority to issue statewide policy documents known as “law enforcement directives,” which are binding on all law enforcement agencies and all 36,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers.

Last year, Grewal used this authority to issue a number of directives, including the Independent Prosecutor Directive , which established a ten-step process for conducting independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and other serious use-of-force incidents and the Internal Affairs Directive, which changed the internal disciplinary process for police departments.

Grewal has stated that he intends to issue a law enforcement directive revising the Use of Force Policy before the end of this year.

For updates on this and other stories check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at

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