CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in the NJ.Com article, “A decorated N.J. cop faces an excessive force suit. He has a history of violent allegations.” In connection with a lawsuit brought against several police officers for use of excessive force, the article notes that NJ Advance Media was able to ascertain that one of the officers received a major discipline in 2020 in connection with off duty conduct that resulted in the damage of property at a business.
The public has a right to know the nature of the incident that led to his suspension, said CJ Griffin, a public records attorney who has advocated for the release of police records.
“This officer damaged a business’ property,” Griffin said. “Did it happen as revenge? As a result of drunken behavior or a bar fight? The public has a right to know, as these things factor into an officer’s fitness for duty.”
The identity of officers who received major discipline would be revealed under a new directive from [Attorney General Gurbir] Grewal. The directive would also require the department to provide a short synopsis of the incident, which should offer more details than what police departments now have to produce, Griffin said.
There’s also new legislation advancing in the state Legislature that would make internal affairs files public. New Jersey is one of 23 states where the files are confidential.
“We are not asking New Jersey to forge some path to lead the nation on something,” Griffin said of the legislation. “We’re saying catch up with Florida, Alabama, Georgia. This is not cutting edge. This is catching up.”
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