Police throughout New Jersey will not be allowed to arrest individuals with bench warrants for minor crimes under a new order from Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

The initiative only applies to people who have municipal court bench warrants with bail amounts of $500 or less. Instead of arresting them, officers must release these offenders and give them a new court date.

Municipal courts handle local minor offenses including traffic violations, public intoxication, and drug possession. They can also oversee criminal violations including simple assault and shoplifting.

In announcing the new policy, Platkin called it "common-sense governance that is both efficient and fair."

“Under these protocols, residents will no longer be subjected to unnecessary and intrusive custodial arrests for hundreds of thousands of outstanding low-level warrants—and officers across New Jersey will avoid spending time effectuating and processing such arrests that by and large do not further public safety," Platkin said.

Before the new policy, cops were required to arrest individuals with bench warrants regardless of the violation. Now law enforcement must give them a bail recognizance form for a new court date.

State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan said the directive will make roadside interactions safer and more efficient.

Exceptions exist for some situations, including safety risks. Additionally, if a separate crime has been committed unrelated to the bench warrant then the police can respond appropriately.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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