Thank S3558 A5231 bill sponsors and Governor for professionalizing NJ cruelty enforcement
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Since the 1800's, the State of New Jersey has had an unusual animal cruelty enforcement system in place that authorizes private citizens in the NJSPCA to conduct law enforcement functions. This authority includes the extraordinary power to carry weapons, effectuate arrests, conduct searches, and seize property.
However, the enforcement of criminal laws – including the animal cruelty laws– deserves to be performed by professional law enforcement, not private citizens. Only professional law enforcement can provide the required experience, training, and accountability that is necessary in the performance of such significant governmental functions. Given New Jersey's continued reliance on this outdated structure, it is perhaps not surprising that the State Commission on Investigation issued reports in 2000 and 2017 that found significant failings in the NJSPCA, and the Governor’s Animal Welfare Task Force issued a report in 2004 that called for the NJSPCA's law enforcement powers to be removed.
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly have now passed and the Governor has signed bill S3558 / A5231, that provides for the long-overdue and needed reform. News article
The bill provides for a superior structure, with accountability, at low cost. It:
- Moves primary authority and supervisory responsibility for animal cruelty prosecutions to existing law enforcement professionals in the County Prosecutors' Offices.
- Mobilizes existing professional law enforcement officers-- like municipal police and Animal Cruelty Investigators – to respond to cruelty calls and conduct investigations.
- Provides accountability and professionalism for animal cruelty enforcement (and ends the too-often current confusion of whether a cruelty call should be followed up by currently-authorized law enforcement or the NJSPCA).
- Is low cost because it relies on existing staff in the County Prosecutors' Offices and municipalities, and allows fines recovered to go back to the counties, municipalities and agents that were engaged in the investigation and prosecution.
- Has the support of the Attorney General, County Prosecutors' Offices, Association of Counties, and numerous municipalities and animal welfare groups.
Please sign the petition to thank the sponsors and Governor for enacting this important reform.
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