Christie Signs Bill for Uniform Sexual Assault Training for N.J. Police
The sexual assault training curriculum will be created by the Division of Criminal Justice and will be monitored by the Attorney General.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill on Monday which will implement a statewide training program for all police officers investigating reported sexual assaults.
The bill will require that each police department in the state receives uniform training starting next year. The curriculum will be created by the Division of Criminal Justice.
The bill states it will require the state Divison of Criminal Justice to develop a course which will help officers in “handling, investigation and response procedures” for sexual assaults.
The bill also states that it will be up to the Attorney General to make sure all law enforcement officers complete the required training within 90 days of employment or a transfer. Officers must also complete an additional four hours of in-service training every two years.
While many New Jersey police departments already offer training for their officers and the Attorney General’s Office has guidelines in place for investigating sexual assault claim, Peter Aseltine, a Division of Criminal Justice spokesman, says state prosecutors “welcome the opportunity to continue to develop and expand” existing training.
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D), one of the bill’s sponsors, says the new law will encourage victims to report sexual assaults and will help reinforce the state’s commitment to justice.
Advocacy groups for the bill say that current practices discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults from fear that they may not be believed or will face severe interrogations.
“Survivors who choose to report their assault to law enforcement should feel comfortable and affirmed, and continuing education for the professionals with whom they first interact can help create better outcomes for survivors and increase perpetrator accountability,” says Patricia Teffenhart, the executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Additional sponsors of the bill include:
- Senator Shirly K. Turner (D)
- Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D)
- Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D)
- Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D)
- Senator Jennifer Beck (R)
- Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D)
- Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez–Gregg (R)
- Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin (D)
- Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo (D)
- Assemblywoman Gabriela M. Mosquera (D)
- Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R)
- Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D)
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