ASSEMBLY LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 796

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  NOVEMBER 30, 2017

 

      The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 796.

      Assembly Bill No. 796 directs the Commissioner of Personnel to retitle the position of State correction officer to State correctional police officer.  The bill also clarifies their law enforcement powers and authority to carry a firearm.

      Although State corrections officers have general police powers, the correction officer title has often led the general public to narrowly view these officers as prison guards rather than law enforcement officers.  In certain situations, this misunderstanding has resulted in unnecessary confrontations with members of the general public—most notably those involving visitors to State correctional facilities, encounters outside a hospital where a State prisoner is being treated, or interference during the pursuit or apprehension of an escapee—where members of the public ignored an officer’s lawful instructions because they were unaware of the officer’s police powers.

      Indicative of their police powers, State correction officers were deployed to Ground Zero, Liberty State Park, Newark Liberty international Airport and several other critical locations in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

      Revising the position titles of correctional officers to include a reference to police will clarify and affirm the law enforcement powers of these officers.

      This bill was pre-filed for introduction in the 2016-2017 session pending technical review.  As reported, the bill includes the changes required by technical review, which has been performed.