The New Jersey State Assembly has passed a bill on Thursday requiring school children be taught "mutual cooperation and respect" when interacting with police as a part of social studies class.
This instruction on compliance, I mean, cooperation would begin in Kindergarten and continue all the way up until graduation. When the bill was initially introduced critics reasonably took issue that the implication was that school children (and by extension – citizens) where the only parties responsible for the way the civil servant Police engaged with the public.
The bill was then amended to include educating the children in tandem on "an individual’s rights under the law in interacting with a law enforcement official." ie: their constitutional rights, which if memory serves, used to be the main point of social studies and not police state compliance…but c'est la vie.
This bill comes at a time when police interactions with (brown) civilians are at an all time high and some activist are skeptical of the bill's true intentions.
New Jersey teacher, Zellie Imani, says the law doesn't empower young black and brown children and instead, "empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public."
The main mouthpiece and sponsor for this bill are New Jersey Assemblywoman, Sheila Oliver, a black woman. Oliver says that considering the recent string of shootings the bill is simply about preparation and "rebuilding" trust.
One could argue that the example of young Tamir Rice, who was a school child with zero time to engage with the police before being gunned down or Philando Castile, a registered gun owner and law abiding citizen being killed in his car without provocation, suggests that it may not be the citizens who have an issue when engaging with the police.
The bill passed 76-0 but it must still be passed by the Senate to become a law to begin in 2018.