Beach Measure To Give County Sheriffs Administrative Flexibility Advances In Committee

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Beach designed to give county sheriffs a measure of administrative flexibility and ensure essential functions can continue in the sheriff’s absence was unanimously approved by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.

“Our State’s county sheriffs perform essential law-enforcement duties for our communities, particularly in the more rural and suburban regions of New Jersey,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden. “Rather than saddle these law enforcement professionals with mountains of paperwork, we should give them the option to share the burden with a duly-authorized undersheriff. And in the event that a sheriff is absent, the administrative functions of the office should be carried on by a qualified undersheriff.”

The bill, S-2556, would permit the sheriff of each county, by written designation filed with the county clerk, to designate one duly-trained and qualified undersheriff to perform any of the administrative duties outlined for the sheriff under current law. The bill would free the sheriff from bureaucratic responsibilities and focus on other aspects of the job, and would create a back-up in the event that the sheriff was unable to perform the administrative duties of the office. The bill is supported by the County Sheriffs Association.

Senator Beach noted that State statute contains more than 30 pages on the administrative duties of county sheriffs, including assisting in the sale of certain premises, conveyance of deeds, and following the procedures for sale of a home in foreclosure. The lawmaker added that with the current economic crisis, many sheriffs’ offices have found themselves inundated with paperwork, keeping them from other responsibilities. This bill would authorize undersheriffs to perform some of the excess administrative functions.

“Sheriffs need some administrative flexibility to be able to safeguard New Jersey’s citizens and provide support for local law enforcement efforts,” said Senator Beach. “Especially with the increase in foreclosures caused by the global economic crisis, keeping up with just that aspect of the sheriff’s duties could be a full-time job by itself. This bill gives sheriff’s the flexibility they need to delegate responsibilities to civilian undersheriffs, so they can focus on the law enforcement needs of their county.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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