Monthly Archives: November 2009

“DON’T TASE ME, BRO!” A.G. Approves use of Taser for the Deranged in NJ

[11/23/09 – 9:12 pm] Earlier today, the Attorney General released the following announcement:

Attorney General Anne Milgram today issued a supplemental use of force policy that allows law enforcement officers the use of electronic stun guns in limited circumstances involving emotionally disturbed individuals.

The supplemental policy follows the recommendation of an Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on the use of less-lethal force. The use of stun guns will only be allowed by trained law enforcement officers who have completed a Police Training Commission-approved course. No officers could carry or use the guns without authorization from his or her department’s chief executive.

The number of officers authorized to carry or use the weapons will be determined by the size of the department, from one officer in a municipality with 25,000 or fewer residents to four officers in a municipality with 75,000 or more residents. In addition, officers who are members of SWAT teams, or emergency response units, can be authorized to carry the electronic weapons.

“This is the first time in this state that officers are going to be authorized to carry and use stun guns in any capacity,” Attorney General Milgram said. “Given this important shift in policy, it is prudent to have a limited initial deployment that provides for adequate controls, training and accountability measures so that we can evaluate the use of such devices.”

Noting that stun guns can be potentially deadly weapons, the policy states that the use of conducted energy devices in limited situations may allow police officers to resolve confrontations without escalating to a level where deadly force is required, and reduce the risk of injuries to persons subject to arrest, the arresting law enforcement officers, and innocent by-standers.

“This policy limits the use of the devices to ensure that officers recognize the lethality and seriousness of the weapons, deploy them consistent with that lethality, and use the weapons only where appropriate,” the policy states.

Possession of stun guns will remain prohibited except for trained law enforcement officers. The State Police, in consultation with the Division of Criminal Justice, will be responsible for developing a list of specifications of stun guns that may be deployed by police in New Jersey.

The Attorney General’s Use of Force Policy provides that deadly force may only be used when an officer reasonably believes that such action is immediately necessary to protect an officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

The supplemental policy states that under certain circumstances stun guns may be appropriate weapons for law enforcement officers to use against an emotionally disturbed person, which is defined as a person who appears to be mentally ill or temporarily deranged and is conducting himself or herself in a manner that a police officer reasonably believes is likely to result in serious bodily injury to himself or herself, the officer, or others

Download a copy of the Supplemental Taser Policy.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Illegal Police Bike Chase Results in Suppression of Evidence – State v. Williams

[11/23/09 – 11:45 am] In this morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Williams, the Court ruled that evidence recovered from a defendant following an illegal bike chase had to be suppressed. The defendant in Williams noted a large police presence in the neighborhood and quickly road away from the officers. Without any level of suspicion, the police chased him on foot and apprehended him after 4 or 5 seconds. During the chase, the defendant discarded a small box from his pocket that contained cocaine. The Appellate Division held that evidence obtained during an illegal chase and arrest may only be admissible if its recovery is substantially attenuated from the police illegal conduct. The Court went on to conclude that in this case there was no such attenuation and ordered the evidence suppressed.

Download a copy of State v. Williams.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

DWI and Refusal May Never Merge – State v. Eckert

[11/16/09 11:48 am] This morning, the Appellate Division ruled in a case captioned State v. Eckert that drunk driving and refusal offenses never merge and require the imposition separate sentences. In Eckert, the defendant’s attorney negotiated a disposition calling for a merger of the DWI and refusal convictions which was granted. He then sought the imposition of a three-month suspension of driving privileges on the DWI charge based upon a mandatory sentencing step-down to first offender status to which the defendant was entitled. Both the municipal court and Law Division rejected this approach and imposed a seven-month suspension on the DWI. In rejecting this approach, the Appellate Division held that the attempt to merge the refusal into the DWI charge by the defendant constituted a subterfuge to bypass the plea bargaining restrictions on DWI and refusal cases.

Download a copy of State v. Eckert.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Third Offenders can Get No-Points after 5 years on 39:4-97.2 – Patel v. MVC

[11/10/09 – 10:00 am] This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the provisions of NJSA 39:4-97.2 permit a driver to avoid points on a third or subsequent offense provided that five-years have passed since the prior offense. This would include a third offense that occurs more than 5-years after a second offense. The Court’s interpretation on third offenders reverses contrary dicta from the Appellate Division in this case.

Download a copy of Patel v. MVC.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive