Last year, the New Jersey State Board of Inquiry issued a “Badge abuse” report which revealed that many municipalities in the Garden State still appoint constables.
The practice began in the 1600s when there were no police, and the British used them to keep the peace and perform other rudimentary law enforcement services in the colonies.
The SCI report recommended that constables be abolished as many carry arms and wear official-looking uniforms and badges, but have no training or supervision. Some engage in dangerous and illegal behavior.
Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, has now introduced a measure, A3655, to get rid of constables altogether.
“They are imposing police officers, it is totally unnecessary, outdated, they represent a potential danger and it is time for the legislator to act,” he said.
The SCI report documents several examples of officers facing criminal charges for impersonating police officers.
In one case, multiple Essex County officers appeared at the scene of the Jersey City mass shooting outside a market in 2019.
They produced firearms and announced that they would provide reinforcements to the police officers who had been dispatched to the scene, even if the gendarmes did not have the power to do so.
The gendarmes are not cops
“Let’s be clear: the gendarmes are not police officers, the gendarmes have not received any certification. It’s time to act here,” Dance said.
He said there were more than 130 constables across the Garden State and some of those people walked around and acted like they were law enforcement officials, sometimes even issuing traffic tickets and warnings. arrest when they had nothing to do.
Why the gendarmes are seen as a problem
Dance said the position of constable had to be abolished before anyone got hurt.
“The gendarmes have the appearance of a law enforcement officer, but lack training, lack certification,” he explained.
Dancer said lawmakers need to go back and clean up old laws established during colonial times.
“We need to have the New Jersey Police Commission law enforcement officers certify today that constables are not police officers,” he said.
Constables are politically appointed
Dancer is considered that constables are politically appointed.
“There shouldn’t be politically appointed look-alike police on the streets of our state,” he said.
The SCI report indicates that in some cases, the gendarmes were appointed after paying a fee.
The measure has been referred to the House Law and Public Safety Committee, but no action has yet been taken.
Dancer said there was bipartisan support for the measure and he hopes it can move forward in the coming weeks.
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