Former New Jersey attorney general says policing reforms overdue

Peter Harvey cites poor training and bad policy as most common contributory factors

While cultural and racial bias and “bad apples” were evident in recent incidents of violent police misconduct, in many instances, poor training and bad policy were the most common factors, a former New Jersey attorney general said.

Appearing on Reporters Roundtable with David Cruz, Peter Harvey said, “Depending on the force, it’s a combination of all of the above … What I see is that there are no anti-bias policies. I bet you most of these police departments do not have a formal policy as we do in Newark, that prohibits bias-based policing … The training is to be aggressive, and not to de-escalate, and it also tells me that police management is not strong in that particular department.”

Harvey, who serves as the federal monitor ensuring that Newark’s police division complies with a federal consent decree after decades of systemic abuse, said he would recommend at least two years of college and a three-year probationary term be a requirement for police department hires.

“This is really tough work, and we have to be sure you’re emotionally stable. We have to see evidence that you care about all the people in the city, not just certain communities,” he said. “We have to be sure that you’re smart because this is a job that requires brains, not just brawn.”

Harvey also shared an update on his tenure as federal monitor in Newark but did not indicate whether the federal monitoring will continue there after May, which is the earliest the monitoring could be terminated.

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