YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A legislative panel in Trenton today gave its approval to a pilot program that would give the state Attorney General the power to take over a county or municipal law enforcement agency’s internal affairs unit.
Certain conditions would have to be met, under the measure sponsored by, among others, Assemblymen Gordon M. Johnson of Bergen County and Peter J Barnes III of Middlesex.
The Attorney General would select the county and municipal law enforcement agencies to participate in the pilot program and determine the criteria.
A report evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot program from the Attorney General would then be submitted to the Governor and Legislature.
The report, among other functions, would recommend whether to include all county and municipal law enforcement agencies in the state.
The bill was proposed in response to allegations of misconduct in the Edison Police Department’s internal affairs unit late last year. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office now oversees the unit’s Internal Affairs Division, requiring monthly reports on all investigations.
Each law enforcement agency in the state, at all levels, has an internal affairs unit that is responsible for receiving, investigating and resolving complaints made against law enforcement officers in that agency.
“In these situations, agencies require oversight and management to get the unit back on track,” Johnson said.
The Attorney General’s involvement, he said, “will ensure these agencies are operating honorably, fairly and in accordance with the law.”
Today’s approval of the Assembly Judiciary Panel carries no authority. The measure now moves to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.
“With literally hundreds of law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, ranging in size from just a few officers up to several hundred, there is no uniform internal control,” Barnes said. “Transferring oversight will ensure that allegations of police misconduct will be investigated promptly and fairly.”