Senator Vin Gopal has introduced a bill prohibiting the issuance of law enforcement-style badges to politicians and political appointees.
The legislation was inspired by a recent incident wherein the former Port Authority Commissioner verbally attacked two Tenafly Police Officers during a routine traffic stop and attempted to leverage her authority for personal gain by utilizing her badge.
The bill would prohibit certain municipal officials and state employees from obtaining a law enforcement-style badge, including Directors that sit on the board for the New Jersey Transit Corporation; Commissioners for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; County Elected Officials that were not elected as a law enforcement officer, excluding County Sheriffs; and State and Municipal Elected Officials.
“We have witnessed the potential for the abuse of power and now it is time to act,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“There is an elevated level of authority associated with these badges. There is no need for municipal and state officials to carry such badges; it opens the door for officials to abuse their badges and their power. We cannot allow our state and municipal employees and representatives to take advantage of their positions.”
“The public has entrusted our elected and appointed government officials with great responsibilities: to serve as their voice, to advocate on their behalf and to follow the letter of the law. We have an obligation to maintain that valuable trust. We cannot and will not allow officials to abuse their power and violate the public’s trust. This measure is a key step in assuring just that,” Senator Gopal said.
Officials who would retain their badges include police, EMS, fire officials and inspectors, among others.