On the last day of the legislative session the Senate and Assembly today approved PBA initiated legislation to remove the threat of prosecution for civil rights violations from officers who encounter minors with cannabis and alcohol.
The bill, A5610, restores the requirement that in order for an officer to be prosecuted for a deprivation of civil rights violation that there must be a finding that the officer acted to target a person who is in a protected class. Current law states that there does not need to be a finding of intent for a civil rights prosecution to occur if an officer encounters a suspected minor with alcohol or cannabis and detains the person for longer than needed to identify them, among other restrictions on officer actions with minors.
The State PBA has been lobbying for the last few years to fix this egregious problem that has tied officers hands across the State. The lack of enforcement power due to the threat of officer prosecution has resulted in minors throughout New Jersey openly violating the underage consumption law while engaging in dangerous and sometimes violent activities. The passage of the bill has been a major priority for the NJ State PBA all session.
We would like to thank Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald and Senator Beach for their support and leadership in expediting the passage of this bill. They have been true allies in our effort to protect our members and ensure that kids are not harmed by the unlawful use of alcohol and cannabis. We are grateful the Governor agreed with our concerns and will sign the bill into law.