New office will collect, analyze data on New Jersey criminal justice and public safety

(The Center Square) – A new statewide office will collect, analyze and publish data about criminal justice and public safety in New Jersey.

The “Office of Justice Data” (OJD) within the Department of Law & Public Safety (LPS) will oversee the department’s compliance with mandates to collect data under recently enacted laws. Among them is a November 2020 law requiring the attorney general to create a statewide program to collect and analyze data about criminal defendants.

A spokesperson for the department did not immediately confirm the budget for the office but said it “will be funded through existing resources within” LPS. The department plans to hire four research scientists with annual salaries ranging from about $82,527 and $117,772.

“We’re committed to making New Jersey a national leader in the collection and analysis of criminal justice data,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a news release. “To make good policy, we need good data, and the creation of this office reinforces our commitment to evidence-based policymaking.”

OJD will coordinate the department’s data collection duties around asset forfeiture, drug monitoring, juvenile justice, law enforcement officer suicides and the recruitment of minority officers. It is also tasked with making the information available to the public.

“Data analysis gives us the opportunity to review where we’ve been, understand where we are, and plan for where we want to go,” Kristin Golden, the department’s first chief data officer, said in a news release. “Data are vital to transparency and trust, allowing us to make meaningful assessments of performance and develop more informed policies and practices.”

Golden was a special investigator in the Attorney General’s Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards (OLEPS) for the past nine years.

“LPS will seek out grant opportunities applicable to data analysis and collection efforts to bolster the resources available to the Office of Justice Data,” Steve Barnes, a spokesman for the attorney general, said in an email.

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