Senate Committee Advances Bill Requiring Notice Of Counter-Terrorism Investigations

TRENTON –  The state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday released proposed legislation that would require out-of-state law enforcement to properly notify law enforcement officials in New Jersey of intended counter-terrorism investigations in the state.

This legislation was introduced in the wake of last year’s controversy concerning the secret surveillance of Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups in New Jersey by the New York Police Department. The operations were part of a widespread program by the NYPD to collect intelligence on Muslim communities inside New York and beyond.

Undercover officers and informants eavesdropped in Muslim cafes and monitored sermons, gathering information on people based on their language and ethnicity, even when there was no evidence of a crime. The unit that conducted the surveillance did not generate a lead or case in the six years the program has been in place. The unit has since ceased its operation in New Jersey.

The bill (A-2948) requires out-of-state law enforcement entities to inform the prosecutor of the county – where they intend to conduct counter-terrorism activities – of their intentions 24 hours prior to entering the county. Notification should include, but would not be limited to the nature, purpose and scope of the counter-terrorism activity that the out-of-state entity intends to undertake in the state.

The bill also sets guidelines that should be followed if and when a New Jersey law enforcement agency or officer learns of counter-terrorism activities being conducted in the state by an out-of-state law enforcement agency. Under the bill, the officer or agency is required to notify the county prosecutor, who must then notify the New Jersey State Police within 24 hours of receiving the information that an out-of-state law enforcement entity has entered or intends to enter the state.

If an out-of-state law enforcement agency does not comply with the notification requirements under the bill, the Attorney General or a county prosecutor may seek and obtain a temporary or permanent injunction prohibiting the agency from conducting counter-terrorism activity in the state.

The bill now heads to the Senate President for further consideration.

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