The NJ bill that could save our kids, our shore, and our sanity (Opinion)
The legalization of marijuana in New Jersey brought many things, but no one expected it would come with a law that would prevent police from dealing with underage drinking and cannabis — lest the cop be charged with a third-degree deprivation of civil rights, which could land the officer in jail for up to five years.
It's so bad, that in Ocean City, Memorial Day weekend saw a large number of teens at the beach, and police and first responders responding to nearly 1,000 incidents of underage drinking, vandalism, assaults, confiscation of a handgun, and shoplifting. Mayor Gillian ordered beaches to close to everyone at 8 p.m., a restriction they are considering keeping.
It's so bad, that the police, rather than risk their career in a situation where they would normally just take the kid home to their parents, now just ask if they're alright and walk away. As NJSPBA President Pat Colligan said on my New Jersey 101.5 show
As was always the case, for 80 to 90% of the time, the kid was thrown in the back of the police car and driven home. It's not like we were charging these kids with, you know, underage possession. I mean, in some cases they were; but for the most part, especially in my days in patrol, they were driven home. And I knew they were in better hands turning them over to their parents. But, you know, there's not a cop in this state that wants to touch anyone under the age of 21 with alcohol or marijuana, because, you know, cops generally don't like going to jail for five years."
Check out my conversation with NJSPBA President Pat Colligan about that here.
Two New Jersey senators, Anthony M. Bucco and Declan O Scanlon, are proposing legislation that could stop the insanity. It's S-642 would remove criminal liability for law enforcement officers who have an investigative encounter with an underage person for possession of alcohol or cannabis unless civil rights are violated.
O'Scanlon, a guest on my New Jersey 101.5 show explained;
We said, when the Democrats did their ridiculous, outrageous modifications to how police will treat the underage use of alcohol and cannabis; when we legalize cannabis, you are asking for a nightmare. You're asking for chaos; the police need to be able to interact with underage folks. Otherwise, exactly what happened this past weekend is going to happen.
O'Scanlon explains the bill,
I'm gonna introduce legislation that would take us all the way back to the draconian days before we legalized cannabis; where if a cop encountered kids with alcohol or with cannabis, they can detain them, they can talk to the parents. Look, if my underage kids are caught with alcohol or marijuana, we talked about harder drugs, I definitely want that interaction. But I want to know about it. So I'm going to introduce legislation, and Senator Bucco as well, that would take us all the way back to those draconian days when, by the way, we didn't have kids wilding on our boardwalks.
Kids know they can get away with breaking the law and they do.
If you read the statute now, it is amazing. You read it, and it's paragraph after paragraph tying the cop's hands. They have to give not one warning, not two warnings, but 3 warnings, and do nothing. It is really insane.
It goes along with how Democrats do things. If some is good, more is better. We're relaxing cannabis laws, let's just eliminate any sense of civil control of underage use. It's like, if the Democrats were legislating the culling of trees for a fire break, they'd say, 'Look, we can eliminate forest fires by cutting down all the trees.' This is an example of that, and now we have complete and utter chaos.
Based on the law, do the lawmakers not trust the police? Do they think that the police are racist against underage kids?
The essence of that is the people behind the bill. Yes, that is exactly the motivation they felt. And look, there is an argument that minorities are picked up more frequently for these attractions. And that's the problem.
But it isn't an argument to eliminate law and order. You fix that problem. You don't eliminate law and order and go completely the other way. But that was the fear.
99.99% of our cops are fantastic people in it for the right reasons behaving reasonably and they're not racist. We have sort of some of the Democrats many, too many believe that our cops are bad people. And we need to turn that ship'.
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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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