This New Jersey Bill Requires Schools Teach Students How To Interact With Police, But What About The Officers?

Many believe the controversial bill puts the onus on children to deescalate or handle encounters with police, not the other way around.

Veronica Hilbring Jun, 27, 2017

The New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill last week requiring schools to teach children how to interact with police, NBC News reports.

According to the New Jersey State Legislature’s Office of Legislative Services, Assembly Bill A1114 passed unanimously in the Assembly 76-0.  The bill still has to pass the Senate.

The bill mandates the following:

1. School districts start teaching kids how to talk to law enforcement officers starting in kindergarten

2. This instruction continues all the way to grade 12

3. Department of Education must work with a committee to create the curriculum

Critics of the bill say it puts the responsibility from the police officers to the children. New Jersey teacher and activist Zellie Imani told NBC News, “This legislation does not empower young people, especially those living in brown and Black communities. Instead, it empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public.”

Sheila Oliver, New Jersey Assemblywoman said the bill is about prepping kids for their interactions with police. “The number of police related shootings around the nation have created a mistrust of police in many communities. This can help rebuild the trust that is essential for law enforcement to work. This is a lesson many parents already teach to their children. Making it part of the school curriculum is the next logical step.”

Similar bills have been proposed across other states including Texas. The ACLU of New Jersey is watching a number of similar legislative bills in relation to civilian interaction with the police.

But with numerous cases of police brutality, where many victims followed proper protocol while encountering officers, it’s hard to believe that teaching kids — especially brown and black children — how to speak to officers will prevent them from experiencing violence and in the most serious cases, death.

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[MUSIC] How does that start? What can we as individuals do to trust in solve the issue between the police and the black community. We know there's a problem, lets talk solutions. I think you are going to have to look at short term and long term goals. Okay. Okay, in the short term one of the things we might do, we heard it in different media is that we need to look at body mics. Or body cameras. Okay. But transparency is key. If people can see what's happening as it's happening, that can help us understand the totality of the circumstances, whether the officer did the right thing, or the wrong thing, right? Mm-hm. And if the police are doing the wrong thing then they should be held accountable. Right? But if they're doing right, then we have uphold them and support them when they're moving in the right direction. And long term? And long term. We need to start looking at economic developement. That's what I spoke about before. Mm-hm. Help, working out these educational issues, these poverty issues, starting to bring business and, and employment to our communities to uplift them. When I was Mayor one of the kids told me, he said look Mayor if, I don't wanna be on the corner dealing drugs. Mm-hm. But if you can me a jo, I don't have a choice, I don't have a job. Right so we started working with developers to force training Uh-huh. And, and local employment to make that impact and make that difference. That's That's the direction that we have to start heading or otherwise we're gonna stay in the same position that we're in. In the same circle, in the same cycle. In the same circle. David, I'll close out with you. What do you feel are some possible solutions just your short or long term to this situation between police and the African American community. Okay, really quickly, about the [INAUDIBLE] Eric Garner, we had a we had a, [INAUDIBLE] in that and we still didn't get justice. So I think what needs to happen is, as a community, as a community I will agree that we need to take control of our own situations. We need to go back to where we were before, cause I honestly feel like the worst thing to happen to black people wasn't slavery, it was immigration. Because when we integrated, we gave away our power and we begged for the same people that oppressed us, we asked them to govern us, and to also protect us. That has never happened. They don't have any respect for black life. But, so black communities are going to have to start taking care of their own, building their own. The only thing that I fear about that As we did that earlier. Then we had what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had Black Wall Street. They say black people don't build community. We do, but every time we try to do something, it always get tear. It, it, it, it was originally, we lost. Riot, so I say the solutions is for us to start schooling our kids about themselves, about their History, about their God, and about their opportunities for economics, I think that's, that's, that's where were start. and one thing I just want to say is he's right we have to start building our communities not tearing them down. And that's what these riots are doing and let's be clear, this won't be just a short term problem, this will have long term damage For our communities, for the future. He talked about historical references. You look at the Newark riots, or any other riots throughout the country, they didn't just disappear and the city recover overnight. Right. That was five, 10, 15, 20 years. There are long-term ramifications here. Definitely. Right. So this is our backyard that he's advocating that we destroy. That's gonna have a ripple effect for the next five, ten, 15, 20 years. Unfortunately, we are out of time. Thank you so much David Banner. Thank you so much Mr. Hawkins for joining us. Thank you. Oh. David are you still with us David? Yes I am. Yes I am. Do you, do you have a response to Mr. Hawkins comment- No, I, I. As we wrap up? I'll just tell him, it's amazing to me that everybody cares more about property, more about hurt cops being hurt, than dead kids. If buildings have to burn in order for people to stop killing our kids, I'm with that. If cops gotta get hurt in order for them to stop killing our kids, I'm with that. I just hope that our people, as well as white people will care more About dead, innocent black men, women, and children than they do about property or somebody getting hurt. If they want peace in Baltimore even those dirty cops to justice, then it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Now I, I understand your position, but you don't wanna perpetuate the same cycle. And you're not seeing the connection between business And poverty, and the urbanisation of our communities. And that's, that's their, not separate, But when their war is [CROSSTALK] If you want to burn down business and make it harder to bring companies into your community, then you're forcing a lack of employment Right, you're condemning the community to live in a state of poverty. You're preventing investment. What is, but it's always. You're furthering the lack of education. It's already that way though. You're causing the same thing you're trying to prevent by not, not looking for in a positive fashion. Gentleman I greatly appreciate your passion on both sides and your enthusiasm and, and you've brought a lot to the table. [MUSIC]