Do cops need new ID policy after arresting the wrong man in Lakewood?
In the aftermath of the mistaken-identity arrest of a music teacher in Jackson on a warrant intended for another man with a similar name, Assemblyman Ron Dancer is sponsoring a bill to implement additional safeguards for law enforcement.
John McCarthy is a 56-year-old music teacher and band leader at the Goetz Middle School. He was arrested by Lakewood police on Oct. 21 when a police officer thought McCarthy had an outstanding warrant from Burlington for theft and fraud.
It turns out that the warrant was actually for a Jon — not John — McCarthy. The man they took in had a spotless record but was held for three days in jail before the mistake was rectified.
Dancer says his bill would have police follow governmental ID checks and review photos of the subject being arrested to avoid a repeat of McCarthy's humiliation.
"What John McCarthy went through — his mug shot, which went online — was circulated on social media. And his students that he taught, obviously, made quite an issue of this on social media. And so you had extensive humiliation, let alone the reputation damage," he said.
The legislation would create a two-step process, requiring officers to check any government ID such as passports, military ID or Social Security card. Police would then have to review photographs of the suspect on file.
The bill also mandates that the ID checks be made within 12 hours of a person's arrest.
Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5