Today, the full Assembly passed a bill that would require out-of-state law enforcement to properly notify law enforcement officials in New Jersey of intended counter-terrorism investigations in the state.

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This follows the secret surveillance of Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups in New Jersey by the New York Police Department (NYPD). These operations were part of a widespread program by the NYPD to collect intelligence on Muslim communities and were first uncovered near the Rutgers Campus in New Brunswick.

The bill is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Mainor. He says, “No doubt we must protect our country against the threat of terrorism, but not at the expense of civil liberties. The (NJ) Attorney General’s review into the NYPD surveillance operation found no laws were broken, but a line was definitely crossed. This bill helps dictate that surveillance in our backyard by other states, without our knowledge and adequate justification, cannot happen again.”

The legislation requires out-of-state law enforcement entities to inform the prosecutor of the county where they intend to conduct counter-terrorism activities of their intentions 24 hours prior to entering the county. Notification should include, but would not be limited to the nature, purpose and scope of the counter-terrorism activity that the out-of-state entity intends to undertake in the state.

Bill co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says, “It’s troubling how the people responsible for the safety of our residents were kept in the dark about this. It’s not only a matter of respect and good will between law enforcement agencies, but a matter of public safety.”