SENATE, No. 2767

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MAY 20, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† NICHOLAS P. SCUTARI

District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Establishes pilot program in Edison Township requiring Attorney General to perform police internal affairs functions.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

 


An Act creating a pilot program concerning municipal internal affairs units.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† The Legislature finds and declares:

†††† a.†††† The enactment of section 10 of P.L.1996, c.115 (C.40A:14-181) recognizes the importance of properly functioning internal affairs departments in law enforcement agencies.

†††† b.††† Under that enactment, every law enforcement agency in the State is required to adopt and implement guidelines consistent with those governing the ďInternal Affairs Policy and ProceduresĒ of the Police† Management Manual promulgated by the Police Bureau of the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

†††† c.†††† Under the ďCriminal Justice Act of 1970,Ē P.L.1970, c.74 (C.52:17B-97 et seq.), the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the State and as such has general supervision of criminal justice.

†††† d.††† Pursuant to section 16 of P.L.1970, c.74 (C.52:17B-112), all law enforcement officers are obligated to cooperate with and aid the Attorney General and county prosecutors in the performance of their respective duties. Therefore, when law enforcement agencies conduct internal affairs investigations, they do so under the general supervision of the Attorney General.

†††† e.†††† The integrity of the internal affairs process in each municipality is a crucial component of an effective criminal justice system.

†††† f.†††† The failure of this process to function as it should results in a loss of confidence by the public and possibly a miscarriage of justice.

†††† g.†††† On rare occasions, where a police department has failed in its mission, the county prosecutorís office has temporarily assumed control. For example, in June 2010 the Union County Prosecutorís office took over the Springfield police department; in October 2010 the Mercer County Prosecutorís office took over the Princeton Township police department; and in April 2011 the Middlesex County Prosecutorís Office took over the Edison Township police department.

†††† h.†††† Despite these actions by the county prosecutorsí offices, intervention on a State level is necessary and the Office of the Attorney General is the appropriate entity to carry out this function.

†††† i.††††† Edison Township is one of a small number of municipalities in New Jersey where, within the past few years, the county prosecutor has intervened in the operation of the police department.† Despite this intervention, in many ways the township is representative of many of the larger municipalities within the State, in that Edison has a fairly large police department, but not the largest; is ethnically diverse; does not have unusually high or low rates of crime, poverty, or wealth; and has a large patrol area in terms of square mileage, but not the largest.† These factors, when taken as a whole, provide a good basis for the Attorney General to use Edison in its pilot program, since it comprises many characteristics of a range of municipalities with large police forces, thereby allowing the Attorney General to gauge the effectiveness of the pilot program and its applicability to other municipalities with large, troubled police departments.

 

†††† 2.††† a. †In addition to the provisions of section 10 of P.L.1996, c.115 (C.40A:14-181), there is established a two year pilot program in Edison Township requiring the Office of the Attorney General in the Department of Law and Public Safety to perform all duties and functions previously performed by the internal affairs unit of that law enforcement agency.† The Office of the Attorney General shall be responsible for establishing and administering the pilot program.

†††† b.††† Pursuant to the provisions of section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), the Attorney General shall submit a report evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot program to the Governor and the Legislature upon completion of the program.† The report shall recommend whether the pilot program should be expanded to other municipal law enforcement agencies where the county prosecutor has intervened in the operation of the police department.

 

†††† 3.††† This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire upon the filing of the final report.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill establishes a two-year pilot program in which the Attorney General performs internal affairs functions for Edison Township.† The purpose of the bill is to exercise the Attorney Generalís supervisory role in State law enforcement to test an internal affairs pilot program in a locality that is manageably sized yet possessing key characteristics that are generally representative of the local jurisdictions with identifiable internal affairs challenges.

†††† The bill empowers the Attorney General to establish and administer a two-year internal affairs pilot program.† Upon completion of the pilot program, the bill requires the Attorney General to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature concerning the effectiveness of the program.† The bill denotes that


the report must include recommendations as to the potential expansion of the program to certain other municipal law enforcement agencies where the county prosecutor has intervened in the operation of the police department. The bill expires upon the filing of the Attorney Generalís report.