A state Senate committee on Monday recommended passage of a bill that would require out-of-state law enforcement agencies to report to New Jersey authorities investigations conducted within the state's borders.
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee passed without opposition A-2948/S-2311, introduced following revelations last year that a special unit of the New York City Police Department had been running surveillance operations on Muslim houses of worship and businesses in Newark since the mid-2000s without notifying New Jersey law enforcement.
The surveillance, which became public when federal authorities raided an NYPD safe house, led to protests by New Jersey politicians at all levels, including Gov. Chris Christie. But Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa concluded no state laws were broken.
Under the bill, notice of such operations would have to be given to the state police and the Joint Terrorism Task Force no later than 24 hours in advance.
The date and expected length of time of the operation would have to be detailed, as well as the nature of the target and where the target is located.
If the attorney general or county prosecutors learn of operations that have not been authorized, they could go to court to obtain an injunction against the out-of-state agency.
There was no debate on the bill, which passed through the Assembly in a 76-3 vote in October. Three Republicans — Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz of Union County and Sean Kean of Ocean County — voted against the bill.
The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, and by Sens. Sandra Cunningham and Brian Stack, both Democrats from Hudson County.
The committee also passed without debate a measure to regulate the use of unmanned drones by public safety personnel.
The bill, S-2702, authorizes law enforcement to use drones to help locate missing persons and allows the Department of Environmental Protection to use them to help local fire departments combat forest fires.
But it prohibits law enforcement from using a drone unless the chief of a specific agency determines that information from a drone could be used for a specific ongoing investigation. Information about any criminal conduct obtained incidentally from the use of a drone would not be admissible under the bill. In addition, no drones could be armed with anti-personnel devices.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said it plans to issue regulations on the use of drones by the end of the year in anticipation of their being used in the U.S. by both public and private entities. However, those regulations are expected to only address the drones' weight, how high they can fly and how far away from airports they must remain. How those drones are to be used is being left up to individual states.
The bill's sponsors are Sen. Nicholas Sacco, D-Hudson, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Union.
An identical Assembly bill, A-4073, is pending before the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.