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New Jersey lawmakers pushing for bill that would ID cops within 48 hours of OIS

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A bill currently under review in New Jersey state legislature would require state authorities to ID police officers within 48 hours of a shooting or in-custody death.

According to NJ.com, the bill’s sponsors feel that the measure would improve transparencies and public confidence in police shooting investigations by releasing the names of every officer present at the scene to be published online- except in cases where the attorney general deems that disclosure would “jeopardize the officer’s safety or the safety of the officer’s immediate family.”

The measure passed the Senate Budget committee by a 7-4 vote, and would removed the investigations from the hands of county prosecutors, which is the current entity in charge of investigating such an incident.

Currently, state law allows the attorney general to step in on any investigation where a conflict of interest may exist. The new law would put all fatal incidents into the hands of a special unit under the attorney general.

The bill has been reviled by New Jersey’s police unions, who feel the bill creates unwarranted intrusions that not only put police and their families at risk, but imply guilt.

“[the bill] starts with an assumption that’s never been proven: that our county prosecutors are incapable of impartiality in seeking justice when police officers are involved in a shooting,” said Rob Nixon, of the New Jersey PBA.

Nixon went on to say that requiring special prosecutors could undermine investigations by locking county authorities out of the process while waiting for state agencies to arrive.

However, Democratic Senator Ronald Rice -who sponsors the bill- said the measure is to eliminate the perception that conflicts of interest exist in shooting investigations.

“To me, it benefits everybody, including police officers,” said Rice, who formerly served with the Newark Police Department.

 

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