Matheu D. Nunn Quoted in NJLJ Article, “‘We Don’t Squeal’: What Lawyers Need To Know About NJ’s New Use-of-Force Policies”December 26, 2020
The revisions of the state’s directives on use of force by policy were widely hailed by lawyers familiar with the proposal, but implementing the proposal amid the entrenched culture of police is widely seen as challenging.
The attorney general’s directive on use of force will generate more work for lawyers, both in representation of police officers in internal affairs and other administrative proceedings related to the new rules, as well as in suits filed by members of the public over any interaction with police, said Matheu Nunn of Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick in Denville.
Nunn represents police officers in internal administrative matters while others in his firm represent officers accused of criminal offenses.
The attorney general’s requirement that officers employ de-escalation techniques are likely to generate more administrative hearings and criminal charges against officers who are seen as failing to apply such methods, said Nunn. And the more voluminous and complex regulations involving police will give citizens and their lawyers more opportunities to bring excessive-force suits against the police, he said.
“I think you will see an increase. Any time you add more layers of complexity to something, you give people another avenue to sue,” said Nunn.
Most police officers will likely adjust well to the new policies, said Nunn, since they provide “a lot of clarity as to what they can do or can’t do.” Noting that the new directive replaces a 20-year-old set of policies, Nunn said the change was “long overdue.”
“I think, by and large, it will be well-received. In my experience, most police officers just want direction and clarity,” Nunn said.
The most important aspect of the new directive is the requirement that officers intervene and speak up when they see a fellow officer using excessive force, Nunn said. The policy makes it clear that officers don’t have a choice but to intervene, and anyone who doesn’t will be disciplined and criminally charged, he said.
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