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New Jersey Attorney General David Samson returned from a trip to London some two weeks ago with a souvenir — a black police helmet from New Scotland Yard. It sits on a bookshelf near the entrance to his enormous triangular office on the top floor of the eight-story glass building at 25 Market St. in Trenton. New Jersey may be seeing more British influences as Samson rolls out plans for law enforcement in the state, but they will be less traditional than the bobby hat. The clue is the helmet’s badge number: 911, a reference to Sept. 11. Samson’s London trip was a fact-finding tour, a trip to seek advice on dealing with terrorism. “England’s been dealing with the issue of terrorism for 30 years and they’ve got a very sophisticated model that we can utilize,” he says, referring to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republican Army’s efforts on the mainland. That model involves drafting a swath of major private sector organizations across the state’s industry and infrastructure, assessing their vulnerabilities and providing them with a plan to prevent attacks. The move into the private sector is just one of a number of avenues Samson is pursuing with the two new anti-terror units that report to him. Samson, 62, detailed his new anti-terror plans in a wide-ranging interview with the Law Journal that also covered racial profiling, control of county prosecutors’ offices, exemptions to the Right-to-Know law and his future on the job. ANTI-TERRORISM Under the new plan, Samson has asked the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force he chairs to exact cooperation from operators of bridges, water plants, pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications corporations, energy plants and infrastructure sites in preventing terrorism. The task force includes representatives from law enforcement, the civilian state government and members of the public. Supervisors at such concerns are being asked to undergo vulnerability and threat assessment studies and then work with the task force on security plans. “The attractiveness of targets to terrorists is measured in civilian terms, not military terms. The targets to begin with are going to be civilian targets,” Samson says. “We’re trying to identify those kinds of facilities that are essential to our government.” Getting help from the private sector was one of the ideas that impressed him in London. “They’ve got a very successful partnership going, and that’s what I expect we’re going to do,” he says. In Britain, such measures have included an increase in the use of police surveillance cameras monitoring public spaces and the use of concrete barriers to keep cars out of city centers. Samson, however, declines to detail what he hoped to see in New Jersey. One of the problems of preventing terrorism is that if too many details are released, terrorists will be able to get around the measures, he says. Samson praises the state’s emergency response to Sept. 11, but feels that the state’s ongoing preparedness leaves something to be desired. One anti-terror objective is to make sure the state’s law enforcement arms — the state police, local police, county sheriffs and prosecutors’ offices — communicate with each other. “That’s a very big challenge, and you can see that on the national level,” he says, referring to President Bush’s plan to force the FBI and other federal agencies to work together under a cabinet-level Homeland Security Office. But he rates the state’s emergency response capabilities, via the Office of Emergency Management and the Division of the State Police, as “first-class.” Another sticky problem for Samson will be dealing with the state’s Arab and Muslim population in the context of investigating terrorism, he says. “The very diversity of [the state] makes it more difficult to guard against terrorism than if we were trying to guard against terrorism in North Dakota,” he says. “Racial or ethnic profiling is as wrong in the context of terrorism as it was on the New Jersey Turnpike.” RACIAL PROFILING Samson hopes to close the book on a sorry decade for the attorney general’s office. It started in the early 1990s and ended — perhaps — this year with indictments and guilty pleas from two white state troopers who had fired on four unarmed minority men at a traffic stop in 1998. Has racial profiling come to an end? “I think there are not racial profilings anymore,” he says. “If it happens and we’re aware of it, we’re going to take swift and certain disciplinary action. We haven’t in the last six months, so I’m not aware of any racial profiling incident.” Samson says he believes the state’s 3,000 troopers have undergone a culture change “for the better,” adding, “I think the state police organization today is doing an excellent job.” However, a probe into whether the two troopers who were convicted in the shooting were coached by dozens of their colleagues is ongoing, he says. In addition, at least two racial profiling lawsuits against the state have been settled this year. Officials underneath Samson have made recent noises that appear sympathetic to the idea of settling the remaining cases — a contrast to their earlier stance, when they rejected an offer of $10 million to pay off outstanding claims from civilian drivers. Samson says he has taken a hands-off approach to handling the pending suits. “I’ve not been personally involved in any settlement discussions of any cases that this department has been involved in.” Samson declines to comment on his settlement priorities, but cautions, “We’re always interested in resolving cases short of trial where we can save the public money and do justice. But nobody is going settle a case just to settle a case.” As for a leaked survey of speeders on the turnpike that showed blacks driving faster than whites, Samson says that despite efforts to find out how it was leaked, he came up with no answers. “I’d love to know,” he says. Samson has taken steps to restrict the outflow of information about the troopers that used to be available to the public. For instance, he has received an exemption to the new Right to Know Law for the State Police’s Standard Operating Procedure, the rules that govern traffic stops. “To the extent that the Standard Operating Procedure contains issues or concerns that are protected by our anti-terrorism efforts, I think we ought to protect it,” he says. “There are parts of it that are sensitive.” CONTROL OF COUNTY PROSECUTORS Samson confirms that he is seeking more managerial control over but less financial liability regarding county prosecutors’ offices. Cases in recent years have left prosecutors facing massive damage awards after personnel and enforcement decisions that eventually backfired. The culmination was Wright v. State of New Jersey, 169 N.J. 422 (2001), in which the state Supreme Court held the state liable for the misconduct of county prosecutors and directed that the state cover the defense costs. “I didn’t agree with the decision in Wright. I thought the dissent opinion by Judge [Stephen] Skillman was more in tune with the legislative intent of the Tort Claims Act,” he says. “I’m hopeful that the Legislature in the coming session will take action to amend the act in a way that reverses the effect of Wright to place the responsibility for tortious actions of the county prosecutors and their staffs back on the counties.” He wants more control of hiring and firing, however. “We have the responsibility to supervise the work … not in a heavy-handed or burdensome way, but in a way that we think fairly meets the intentions of the statute,” he says. “We are going to perform regular audits of county prosecutors’ offices … we are going to participate to perhaps a greater extent than had been in the past in the hiring process.” What about the effect on patronage? “It’s something I can’t bother with.” POLITICS AND THE FUTURE Of course, to an extent the attorney general’s job itself is a patronage reward, and Samson is a Republican in a Democratic administration. Samson lauds his relationship with Gov. James McGreevey and minimizes his GOP ties. “I never considered myself or for that matter acted as a dyed-in-the-wool hard-line partisan political figure. I have friends who are Republicans; I have friends who are Democrats. Right now I’m registered in an unaffiliated way.” Two lawyers with Democratic ties say Samson may leave office in a year to return to his 85-member law firm, Wolff & Samson in Roseland, N.J. Samson almost completely pushes the door closed on that notion, but not quite. “I don’t have a termination date in mind,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned it’s a four-year term, [but] … one never knows what tomorrow is going to bring.”

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