New bill could give power back to NJ cops to talk to rowdy teens
This past summer's conflagration of the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, a directive limiting law enforcement privilege when someone underage is caught with pot or alcohol, and a series of "pop-up" parties around the state has a group of lawmakers fighting back.
State Sen. Vince Polistina and Assembly members Don Guardian and Claire Swift, all R-Atlantic, introduced legislation this week which Polistina told New Jersey 101.5 will clarify what information officers are allowed to ask for in these situations, and to whom they'll be permitted to disclose it.
With regard to persons under 18, the bill would enable law enforcement to confiscate whatever is being illicitly possessed underage, and notify parents or guardians.
Polistina made sure to stress that giving police permission to question and verify someone's age need not lead to an arrest or citation, although in many cases it could.
But in his view, underage drinkers and weed users have the upper hand under the current system, and that pendulum needs to swing back the other way.
This goes so far in some of these cases, the police officers are concerned about doing their job because they can be charged with civil rights violations," Polistina said. "Juveniles know that there's no recourse right now. We have to end that. There's got to be consequence for some of these issues.
Another area of importance to this measure, according to Polistina, is the ability to let parents know what their kids are up to.
Often, he said, they're in the dark.
"This notion that we're going to take parents out of the equation parenting their children has got to stop, and so this requires notification to parents for anyone younger than 18," the senator said.
But above all, the bill aims to give some power back to the police.
"We have just gone way too far taking away tools for law enforcement to be able to do their jobs, and so this is a small step," Polistina said.
Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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