Spitting into the food or drink of a law enforcement officer in New Jersey would be considered an aggravated assault, under legislation introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean).

This past summer, a 21-year-old Starbucks barista was charged with spitting into drinks ordered by police officers in Bergen County. Kevin Trejo was arrested in Park Ridge after the July incident and also was fired by Starbucks.

Trejo was charged with third-degree subjecting a law enforcement officer with bodily fluid, third-degree tampering with a food product, and a misdemeanor charge of creating a hazardous condition.

The proposed measure would make spitting on the food or into the drink of a law enforcement officer a crime of third-degree aggravated assault.

If convicted, the charge would be punishable by up to three to five years in prison and a mandatory fine of $15,000.

The bill also would require employers to suspend an employee if charged — and fire the worker if convicted.

“An apology is nice, but this should never happen in the first place,” Dancer said in a written statement.

He continued: “Like everyone else, police officers have the right to expect fair and equal treatment and to be served safe food and drinks. Spitting in their drink is a disgusting and disrespectful act that could lead to an officer falling ill.”

In a phone interview with New Jersey 101.5, Dancer said he felt it was very important to send a clear message amid the "present day climate" that such an act is criminal and is "not fighting for social justice."

Dancer introduced the legislation on Oct. 8 with Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove as co-sponsor.

An identical measure was introduced Sept. 21 by Morris County Senator Joe Pennacchio, with Ocean County Senator Chris Connors as co-sponsor.

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