Anti-Corruption Rules Hamper New Jersey Cops’ Diversity Efforts

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While New Jersey regulates police hiring for about half of the state’s police departments, diversifying law enforcement has proven a tall order. Critics say that a complicated set of rules enforced by the Civil Service Commission and meant to protect job seekers from public corruption have hamstrung efforts to include people of color, reports Of 308 local departments that showed racial disparities, 117 were part of the civil service. That included 12 of the top 25 most disparate departments. Data from the most recent Civil Service hiring list suggests minority hiring continues to fall short, with some 60 percent of police hired off the 2020 list being white, despite only 43 percent being eligible.

The commission says that while it oversees testing, hiring is ultimately up to police chiefs and the rule of three, in which chiefs, who are overwhelmingly white, hire the top three candidates as ranked by the Civil Service Commission. The New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police lobbied for recently approved reforms allowing towns to hire police academy graduates directly, without testing, saying that the change would remove barriers for officers of color.

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