Home>Highlight>O’Scanlon, Bucco introduce bill to reinstate protections for police officers

State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon (R-Little Silver). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

O’Scanlon, Bucco introduce bill to reinstate protections for police officers

Measure would also move parental notifications to first warning

By Nikita Biryukov, March 05 2021 11:01 am

Two Republican Senators will introduce a bill to reinstate criminal protections for police officers who illegally searches those under the age of 21 and to allow authorities to notify parents on an underage user’s first marijuana offense.

It’s likely dead on arrival.

“The new marijuana law that was recently passed is one of the most unworkable and counter-productive pieces of legislation that I have ever seen,” said State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver). “It is unworkable in its current form, a threat to the public safety, and exposes law enforcement to frivolous criminal liability.”

The marijuana cleanup bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law along with legalization and decriminalization bills late last month raised criminal liability for police officers who conduct illegal searches related to marijuana by removing a requirement that such a search be made on the basis of an individual’s protected class.

The provision was sought by members of the Legislative Black and Latino Caucuses, who feared legalization could otherwise perpetuate stop-and-frisk, an infamous New York City policy that was found unconstitutional because it disproportionally targeted the city’s non-white residents.

The other provision is something already done by a Democratic bill introduced by State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) on Thursday.

The cleanup bill created a system of graduated warnings that would see underage offenders given a written warning on the first and second offense, with parent notifications only allowed under the latter. Underage offenders would be referred to community groups on the third offense.

The Gopal bill moves parental notifications to the first warning.

“It should be the duty and responsibility of law enforcement to let parents know when kids are breaking the law, especially when it involves a behavior that left unchecked could lead to more serious issues down the road,” State Sen. Tony Bucco (R-Boonton) said. “A law that prohibits the police from informing a mom or dad that their child is playing with fire will lead to societal problems that will take decades to reverse.”

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