More News:

September 29, 2021

New laws aim to boost racial diversity among New Jersey police departments

Gov. Murphy also has established a new office to address inequities throughout the state government

Government Police
New Jersey Police diversity Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a trio of bills into law Tuesday that aim to increase the diversity of the state's police officers through a new mentorship program, a universal background application process and other initiatives.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills into law Tuesday that aim to increase diversity among police agencies by making it easier for underrepresented populations to pursue law enforcement careers.

The three laws require the state to adopt several initiatives to boost diversity including a new mentorship program to help racial minorities navigate the application process and a universal database to track hiring decisions.  

They all passed through the state legislature in June with no opposition before Murphy signed them into law Tuesday.

"We can bring more diversity to police forces and other law enforcement agencies by breaking down the barriers that make it much harder for minorities to join the ranks and to be treated fairly," said Senate President Steve Sweeney. "This will help applicants overcome some of the institutional obstacles and biases that minorities face at the same time we help make police departments better reflect the communities they serve. This is a matter of equal opportunity and social justice."

Murphy also signed an executive order creating a new Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and appointed Jayné Johnson as it director. She will address inequities in the state government and expand opportunities for underserved New Jersey residents. 

"Jayné's wealth of experience advocating for social justice and prior work crafting policy solutions that promote equity will serve her well in this role," Murphy said. "I am proud to appoint her as the director of this important new office and to sign a legislative package to ensure a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for all.” 

Here's a look at the three newly-enacted laws:


This law requires the Civil Service Commission to analyze the racial breakdown of police agencies across the state within the next year to identify those that could benefit from eliminating hiring preferences based on residency. This law seeks to make the racial makeup of police agencies reflect the populations they serve.

"New Jersey is the most diverse state in the nation and we should have a police force that reflects the residents and communities they patrol," state Sen. Ronald Rice said. "As a former Newark police officer, I understand that diversity in our departments is crucial for building trust between the police and the people. This will help us build that diversity in departments that so many municipalities need."

As part of its analysis, the Civil Service Commission must compare the racial compositions of all law enforcement agencies and the salaries of their officers. It must examine salary variances based on geography and socio-economic factors. 

The Civil Service Commission also must create a program to sponsor free or low-cost prep-classes for law enforcement applicants from low-income communities.


The Civil Service Commission will create a mentorship program for minority law enforcement applicants in underprivileged areas under this law.

The program will connect applicants with mentors to help them navigate the application and hiring process and provide advice through any road blocks or obstacles.

One year after the program is implemented, the Civil Service Commission will review the program and make any necessary adjustments. 


This law requires the Civil Service Commission to create a universal background application and to establish a private database to maintain all background information submitted by applicants.

The law will create universal guidelines for removing candidates from the hiring pool and account for the challenges that underrepresented groups disproportionately face. It also requires background investigators undergo training to better understand those challenges.

Follow Hannah & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @hannah_kanik | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Add Hannah's RSS feed to your feed reader
Have a news tip? Let us know.