New Jersey Enacts Mandatory Police Licensing Law
MORRISTOWN, NJ – New Jersey has initiated a significant reform in law enforcement with the enforcement of the Police Licensure Act, mandating all police officers in the state to hold active licenses from the Police Training Commission (PTC). Effective since January 1, 2024, this act brings a new dimension to policing standards in New Jersey.
The Act, signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in July 2022 and going into effect this year, aims to ensure that police officers maintain uniform professional standards and receive ongoing best practices training. New Jersey joins over 40 other states in establishing a licensing system for law enforcement officers.
The Act stipulates that existing officers, who were already serving beyond their probationary period at the start of the year, have been granted initial licenses valid for one, two, or three years. These durations were randomly assigned to facilitate staggered renewal times. Following the first renewal cycle, all licenses will be valid for three years. Officers must reapply 90 days before their license expires and submit the required documentation. Police chiefs are tasked with certifying the good moral character, standard adherence, training completion, and conduct review for each renewing officer.
The licensure system is designed to enforce accountability. Officers who do not meet the required standards could face license suspension or revocation, making it difficult for those with disciplinary records to transfer between departments while avoiding accountability.
The PTC, responsible for officer education and training, had unanimously voted in June 2020 to create this licensing program. Moreover, on August 10, 2023, the PTC formally adopted the process for granting, renewing, and, if necessary, taking action against licenses.
Chief law enforcement officers are required to notify the PTC of any changes in an officer’s employment status, criminal charges or convictions, major disciplinary actions, and findings of misconduct, such as excessive force, unfitness for duty, or fraudulent conduct. The new regulations also mandate law enforcement agencies to terminate, suspend, or refuse employment to individuals whose license has been denied, revoked, or suspended.
This licensure act is part of a series of measures implemented to enhance law enforcement professionalism in New Jersey. These include a directive for law enforcement agencies to annually report various types of conduct leading to disciplinary action, a policy to improve access to internal affairs records, the expansion of the ARRIVE program addressing behavioral health crises, and guidelines to make policing more accessible for women, ensuring the rights of pregnant and breastfeeding officers.
With the implementation of the Police Licensure Act, New Jersey takes a significant step towards standardizing and enhancing the professional qualifications and accountability of its law enforcement officers.