Municipalities Scramble to Implement New Domestic Violence Policies

New Jersey’s all-new Domestic Violence Policy currently has many municipalities scrambling to achieve compliance with the new law that goes into effect later this year.

Matthew Giacobbe, Esq., from Cleary, Giacobbe, Alfieri & Jacobs, who works directly with many municipalities across the state on a wide array of legal matters including domestic violence law, recently spoke to members of the NJMMA at its winter membership meeting. He provided an overview of the new policy and how municipalities can be best prepared for quick compliance with the law.

Municipalities are, by law, required to have an appointed Human Resources Officer (HRO), and a designated backup, to be the contact points for those reporting alleged acts of domestic violence. These designated HROs will need to receive training on responding to and assisting victims of domestic violence.


Matthew Giacobbe, Esq., of Cleary, Giacobbe,
Alfieri & Jacobs addresses the NJMMA

According to Giacobbe, it is important for administrators to act upon and put a proper plan of action in place not just because it is state law, but because if allegations not handled properly, the municipality could be subject to significant liability if a specific case is mishandled. Giacobbe passed out a Sample Domestic Violence Policy to all those in attendance, and, for those who could not attend, the policy is available upon request.

“Once you shape your policy around the new law, it must be circulated to all of your employees,” he said. “Every single employee needs a copy — no matter their gender, no matter their age.”

An important distinction of the new law is that all domestic violence files and reports must remain confidential. Just like employee medical records, any documentation regarding domestic violence reports is required to be stored separately from general employee records and cannot be disclosed unless requested by law enforcement. This level of confidentiality extends to the law enforcement agency requesting such records.

“I would recommend creating a checklist of what needs to be done and to make sure nothing gets left behind when a domestic violence allegation arises,” Giacobbe said. “Keep proper records of what has happened and how you can help your municipality if there is litigation that results from the report.”

Giacobbe also recommended that administrators speak with their district prosecutors as they put together their new policies, as many have rapid response domestic violence teams. “Check off all of your boxes,” he said. “If you’re keeping records and taking care of your employees, there won’t be any unwanted lawsuits.”

You can learn more about the new domestic violence policy at https://www.state.nj.us/csc/authorities/domestic_violence.html.