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New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today released the following statement based on the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s decision on Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directives to release internal affairs and personnel records going back decades. As the chief law enforcement officer in our state, the Attorney General’s directives overturn long-standing protections afforded to law enforcement by statute and regulation.

“The State Supreme Court’s decision is both frustrating and disappointing. The NJSPBA does not and will not protect bad officers who violate the public trust and, yet, the 99.9% of good men and women serving in law enforcement continue to find themselves under attack. We are pleased that the court recognized that many officers only resolved disciplinary actions because they received specific promises of confidentiality which they relied upon, and that they are entitled to a hearing before release of any information regarding events that may have occurred decades ago.  We continue to be disappointed in the Attorney General's ongoing refusal to meet with us to discuss fairness within police reform as well as his continuing attacks on law enforcement.”

Despite all the claims to the contrary, the criminal justice system in the United States works, even when the person accused of a crime is a police officer.  The trial and unanimous conviction on all counts of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minnesota conclusively demonstrates that officers can be, and in fact are, held to the same standards of justice as all other citizens in our nation, as they should be.  The facts of the case surrounding the murder of George Floyd present a horrific tragedy on so many different levels.  At the most basic, a man lost his life needlessly at the hands of an officer.  At the same time, the assertions by so many who wish to demonize all police officers because of the actions of one officer have been shown to be hollow.

Due process rights do not prevent the investigation, charging, trial, and conviction of a police officer.  Neither does qualified immunity.  Neither do police unions, associations, or legal defense plans.

Police departments, unions, associations, prosecutors, and defense attorneys all have their proper role to play, and all citizens, including officers who are accused of a crime, are entitled to their day in court and to have an impartial judge and jury weigh the evidence against them.  They are entitled to have their side of the issue heard and considered.  And all of us must respect the decisions of the court system when these fundamental rules of due process are applied.

We, the men and women of this Association, serve the American criminal justice system, sometimes at the cost of our very lives.  We respect the verdict of the justice system in this case, and we continue to stand for the proposition that respecting the fundamental Constitutional rights of all persons accused of committing an offense, even when that person is a police officer, is no obstacle to the attaining of justice.  In fact, it is the very foundation upon which justice can be obtained.

The National Association of Police Organizations, founded in 1978, represents more than 241,000 sworn, rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the United States.

This document contains frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address some of the substantial issues, concerns, and situations that will arise for law enforcement as we all strive to understand, implement, and apply the new cannabis legalization and marijuana decriminalization laws. We anticipate expanding the FAQs as we encounter additional, and more subtle and complex, issues and gain experience and insight into the challenges presented by the new laws.

  1. What should an officer do if they smell marijuana coming from a vehicle during a motor vehicle stop?

    First, the officer should take the traditional investigative steps to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If so, the driver may be arrested and the vehicle may be searched. If the driver is not found to be under the influence, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop, nor probable cause to conduct a search of the vehicle or the person, in a marijuana possession case or even in a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. As a result, the vehicle and occupants must be released once the initial reason for the stop has been addressed.
     
  2. May an officer initiate or continue a pedestrian stop of an individual based on the officer detecting the odor of marijuana?

    No, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify or continue a pedestrian stop. In addition, the odor of marijuana by itself does not establish probable cause to conduct a search in a marijuana possession case or even a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. The age of the person being stopped is irrelevant in these situations.
     
  3. What happens when a law enforcement officer encounters an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol?

    Law enforcement officers must be cautious when they encounter an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol. The officer can seize the marijuana, hashish, cannabis, and alcohol and issue the appropriate written warning. However, the new law also sets forth the following prohibitions on officers when investigating possession or consumption of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol by an underage individual to determine a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15:
    • Officers may not request consent from an individual who is under the age of 21;
    • Officers may not use odor of marijuana to stop an individual who is under the age of 21 or to search the individual’s personal property or vehicle;
    • Officers who observe marijuana in plain view will not be able to search the individual or the individual’s personal property or vehicle.
    • Officers may not arrest, detain, or otherwise take an individual under the age of 21 into custody for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 except to the extent required to issue a written warning or provide notice of a violation to a parent/guardian
     
  4. Does the new law alter the use of my body worn camera (BWC) in any way?

    The law requires that whenever an officer is equipped with a BWC, the BWC must be activated when responding to or handling a call involving a violation or suspected violation of the amended N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, which addresses the underage possession or consumption of alcohol, marijuana, hashish, or cannabis. The BWC may not be deactivated for any reason throughout the entire encounter. Underage refers to people under the age of 21.
     
  5. How does decriminalization and legalization change fingerprinting?

    Marijuana is still by definition pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2 a “controlled dangerous substance,” and, therefore, appropriately charged violations involving marijuana or hashish are still subject to fingerprint compliance under N.J.S.A. 53:1-18.1. However, when law enforcement officers encounter an individual who has violated N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12)(b) (distribution/possession with intent to distribute 1 ounce or less) or N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3)(b) (possession of more than 6 ounces), the officer is prohibited under the law from arresting, detaining, or otherwise bringing that individual into the station, which means the officer will be unable to fingerprint the violator at the time of the incident. Therefore, those individuals must be fingerprinted at their first court appearance.

    Individuals under the age of 21 who are in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a)(1) are precluded from being fingerprinted under the new law

A21 - Legislation Act

A1897 - Marijuana Decriminalization

S3454 - Underage Possession & Use

AG Directive 2021-1 (Directive Governing Dismissals of Certain Pending Marijuana Charges)

Interim Guidance Regarding Marijuana Decriminalization

FAQs

TENTATIVE information received from the Civil Service Commission today regarding testing….
 
Police Chief, Deputy Police Chief, Police Inspector: Anticipated announcement in February 2021

Police Captain, Police Lieutenant: Anticipated announcement in July 2021; anticipated test in September 2021

Police Sergeant: Anticipated announcement in October 2021; anticipated test in February 2022

*Testing locations and firm dates will be updated and disseminated when we become aware. Both will depend on executive orders that come from the office of the Governor.

Any questions regarding this matter can be directed to civilservice@njspba.com

After several days of discussions between the State PBA and Senate leaders, the Senate Budget Committee yesterday amended and moved forward Senate Bill 1017 to restore the 20s and Out benefit for PFRS members. 

There is no question that the anti-police rhetoric and attacks on our profession from politicians and special interest groups has caused many officers to consider an early retirement.  While there is overwhelming support to restore the 20 year retirement option, the potential stress that this could cause to the funding of the PFRS was a concern for some legislators. In order to get the ball moving on more quickly offering this benefit amendments were proposed in the Budget Committee to provide a roughly 2 year window for early retirements.

The amended bill would reestablish a 20 year retirement option for anyone currently enrolled, regardless of their year of enrollment in PFRS, but the benefit would be frozen again 25 months after the bill becomes law.  This will allow the State to analyze the impact of the retirement benefit for consideration of making the benefit permanent. 

While we would prefer that 20 and Out become permanent now this amendment makes it more likely the bill can move swiftly while its fiscal impact is analyzed in real time. 

The bill now requires a full Senate vote and consideration by the Assembly Budget Committee and the full Assembly. 

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