A New Law Takes Effect in New Jersey — Who Tells the Cops?
When a new law is passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, police departments in New Jersey are expected to enforce the statute. But how do they find out about it?
Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski, who is also a vice president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, said the state Attorney General’s Office will review new legislation.
“Understanding it may have an impact on police practices, they will give some type of briefing to each county prosecutor, and from there our county prosecutor will forward down information relating to the new law.”
He said county prosecutors will sometimes provide “a briefing as to how it will affect either the day-to-day operations or perhaps long-term police practices.”
He explained some laws are not absolutely straightforward and it’s helpful to get guidance from prosecutors.
“We want to be able to take that police practice and make sure it is done universally the same way, throughout our county and obviously throughout the state as well.”
Zebrowski said information from the county prosecutor is typically conveyed to a police chief via email and it is then shared with officers in the department the same way.
If there are complications with a new law or parts of it are sensitive, “we’re going to have in-service training that will go over the specific changes and how we go about doing and changing our police practices. Or it may be something that will be done at the individual lineups.”
He said if an officer has a question about a law, he or she would typically speak with a sergeant or supervisor first but the matter may be referred to a department’s chief.
He said having email allows police to get all sorts of important information out to the rank and file officer very quickly but “you still need to have that person-to-person contact where if it is a very important issue, we want to make sure that our supervisors speak directly to our officers and we explain the new changes to them.”