The National Police Association Supports New Jersey Bill to Clarify Aggravated Assault Against Law Enforcement Officers

The National Police Association Supports New Jersey Bill to Clarify Aggravated Assault Against Law Enforcement Officers

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Indianapolis – May 24, 2024. Intentionally subjecting a law enforcement officer to bodily fluid is a serious form of assault that places them at increased risk for health issues. Bodily fluids contain pathogens that carry diseases like mononucleosis (from the Epstein-Barr virus), influenza, and strep, among others. Although media reports of these egregious acts surfaced during the pandemic, they have been occurring before that time. New Jersey bill A1265 / S407 would address this specifically in the form of food tampering by categorizing it as third-degree aggravated assault. The bill was re-introduced earlier this year by Rep. Alex Sauickie (012) on the Assembly side and by Sen. Joe Pennacchio (26) on the Senate side. Both versions of the bill are currently in the Justice Committee for consideration. The Assembly bill can be found here, and the Senate bill is here.

Under current New Jersey law, purposefully throwing bodily fluid -including saliva- at a police officer is a fourth-degree aggravated assault; or a third-degree aggravated assault if the officer is injured.

NJ A1265 / S407 removes any ambiguity by specifically including instances where an assailant purposefully spits on an officer’s food or beverage. It would result in a charge of third-degree aggravated assault, and if convicted carry a penalty of three to five years of imprisonment, a mandatory maximum fine of $15,000, or both.

The bill also requires the restaurant to suspend an employee charged with this crime and to fire the employee if convicted. Restaurants who don’t comply could be fined up to $500 for the first violation and a maximum of $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

This legislation was first introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in 2020 when a coffee shop employee was charged with offenses that involved spitting in police officers’ beverages. It was designed to offer specificity to aid prosecutors and to send a message that this form of assault will not be tolerated. It also ensures officers that there are measures in place to help keep them as safe as possible.

“With the continued rise in anti-police expression, this bill would send a resounding message that tampering with a police officer’s food or beverage will not be tolerated,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director of the National Police Association. “Police officers have an inherently dangerous job that they must now navigate in an unforgiving landscape. They shouldn’t also have to be concerned with contracting serious diseases simply for wearing a uniform,” Fitzsimmons added.

We thank Rep. Sauickie and Sen. Pennacchio for introducing NJ A1265 / S407 and urge the New Jersey legislature to pass it. We also encourage all states to craft similar bills that specifically address this contemptible form of assault.

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