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N.J. Enacts Sweeping Law Enforcement Policy Revisions, Prioritizes Protection Of Life, Liberty And Dignity Of All Civilians

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The New Jersey attorney general on Monday announced sweeping new rules and strict limits on use of force by law enforcement. It marked the state's first revision in two decades and is a first-of-its-kind framework in the U.S.

Leaders say the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis did not trigger the rewrite of police policy in the Garden State, but his death did add urgency for change. Now, use of force on a civilian must only be used as a last resort, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

"Choke holds are banned in nearly all circumstances as a form of deadly force. It also defines deadly force as any prolonged sitting, kneeling or standing on a person's chest, back or neck," said Thomas J. Eicher, director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.

Once suspects are restrained they must immediately be put in an upright position.

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The new framework for police interactions with civilians calls on officers to prioritize the protection of life, liberty and dignity of residents in every case. All 38,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers in the state must complete a two-day training program on de-escalation and other tactics, including:

"Affirmative duty to intervene, one that requires all officers regardless of their rank, title or seniority to intercede if they observe another officer engage in illegal or excessive force against a civilian," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.

And provide medical assistance.

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The Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer calls the revisions a win for racial justice.

"Black people are three times more likely to be beaten, pepper sprayed, batoned, and bitten by dogs," Boyer said.

Officers will be required to report all instances of force on a new portal, which will be made available to the public in 2021.

Officers will also be trained to spot someone having a mental health crisis, and be encouraged to bring in crisis intervention experts.

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