STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION
Senator PETER J. BARNES, III
District 18 (Middlesex)
Senator RONALD L. RICE
District 28 (Essex)
Requires Attorney General to appoint special prosecutor when criminal complaint is filed against law enforcement officer.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.
An Act concerning law enforcement officer misconduct and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. For the purposes of this section, a law enforcement officer means any person who is employed as a permanent full-time member of an enforcement agency, who is statutorily empowered to act for the detection, investigation, arrest, and conviction of persons violating the criminal laws of this State and statutorily required to successfully complete a training course approved by the Police Training Commission pursuant to P.L.1961, c.56 (C.52:17B-66 et seq.) or certified as being substantially equivalent to an approved course.
b. Whenever a criminal complaint is filed against a law enforcement officer in connection with the performance of the officer’s duties, the Attorney General shall appoint a special prosecutor who shall use all reasonable and lawful diligence to investigate, and if appropriate, prosecute charges of misconduct and brutality.
c. A special prosecutor appointed pursuant to this section shall have all the power and authority of the county prosecutor, including the investigation of alleged crimes, the attendance before the criminal courts and grand juries of the county, the preparation and trial of indictments for crimes, the representation of the State in all proceedings in criminal cases on appeal or otherwise in the courts of this State. In addition, the special prosecutor shall have the power to appoint such temporary assistants, aides, investigators or other personnel and incur expenses as he shall deem necessary.
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment.
This bill requires the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate law enforcement officers against whom a criminal complaint has been filed in connection with the performance of the officer’s duties and prosecute charges of misconduct and brutality.
A special prosecutor appointed under the provisions of the bill would have all the power and authority of the county prosecutor. The special prosecutor is authorized to investigate the alleged crimes, appear before the county criminal courts and grand juries, prepare and try indictments, and represent the State in appeals of the criminal cases in State courts. The special prosecutor also may appoint temporary assistants, aides, investigators, or other personnel and incur any necessary expenses.
According to the sponsor, this bill is intended to address the perception of bias in police misconduct investigations. Because of recent high-profile decisions by grand juries not to charge police officers in cases of police-involved fatalities, the public does not trust county prosecutors to investigate the local police officers with whom they regularly work and rely upon to prepare cases and serve as witnesses. Under the bill, these cases would be handled by a special prosecutor.