SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 2469

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED: †SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

 

††††† The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No. 2469, with committee amendments.

††††† As amended, this bill provides that when a personís death occurred during an encounter with a police officer or other law enforcement officer acting in the officerís official capacity or while the decedent was in custody, the Attorney General is to supersede the local county prosecutor, utilizing existing supersession authority, and conduct, personally or by a designated deputy or assistant attorney general, any investigation, criminal action or proceeding concerning the incident.†

††††† The bill requires the Attorney General or designee to release to the public, including publication on the Department of Law and Public Safetyís website, within 48 hours of the incident, the name of each officer present at the time of the incident or otherwise involved with the incident.† However, when it appears that the release of the information jeopardizes the officerís safety or the safety of the officerís immediate family, the information could be withheld; this exception is to be narrowly construed to prevent the disclosure of information that would be harmful to the safety of the officer or the officerís immediate family.† When the Attorney General or designee determines to withhold the information, the Attorney General or the designee is to issue a brief statement explaining the decision.

††††† The bill provides for the Attorney General or designee to present evidence concerning the incident to a county grand jury or a State grand jury, either one regularly impaneled or one requested to be impaneled by the Attorney General or the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice pursuant to N.J.S.2B:22-1 for this specific purpose, to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against any involved officer.† Any further investigation, criminal action or proceeding, following an indictment, is to be conducted under the law as any other investigation, criminal action or proceeding resulting from a grand jury indictment; provided that the venue for any such criminal action or proceeding will occur in a court located in a county other than the county in which the incident, resulting in the officerís indictment, occurred.

††††† The bill takes effect immediately upon enactment and applies to deaths occurring on or after the effective date of the bill.†

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

††††† The amendments require the Attorney General or designee to release to the public, including publication on the Department of Law and Public Safetyís website, within 48 hours of an incident involving a personís death, the name of each officer present at the time of the incident or otherwise involved with the incident, except when it is determined that the release of the information will jeopardize the officerís safety or the safety of the officerís immediate family; any such withholding of information is required to be explained in a brief statement by the Attorney General or designee.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:

††††† The OLS expects this bill will shift from counties to the Department of Law and Public Safety the workload of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving a personís death by law enforcement officers while acting in the officerís official capacity or while in custody.

††††† Depending on department resource allocation practices, the additional workload could cause an indeterminate recurring expenditure increase to the department.  The department, however, may recoup some or all of any cost increase from counties under current law in section 12 of P.L.1970, c.74 (C.52:17B-108). 

††††† Alternatively, depending on county prosecutor office resource allocation practices, the workload reduction could result in an indeterminate recurring expenditure decrease to counties.  Counties, however, also may incur an indeterminate recurring cost increase to the extent that the department may seek to recoup expenses from counties under section 12 of P.L.1970, c.74 (C.52:17B-108)  for costs that are in excess of the costs counties may otherwise incur.  The OLS cannot determine the net result of the billís two countervailing county cost effects.