Committee Advances Johnson Bill to Eliminate Constables

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Trenton – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Gordon Johnson that would eliminate the position of constable in State law, as recommended by a 2021 New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) report.

 

According to the report, constables are hired by municipalities throughout the State to perform rudimentary law enforcement services, but are often unpaid, untrained, and unsupervised.  Additionally, constables are often equipped with badges and wear uniforms nearly identical to those worn by police officers, resulting in confusion to the public.

 

“Constables are regularly accused of misrepresenting themselves as certified law enforcement officers. This misrepresentation is extremely harmful because it often results in their engagement in matters beyond their authority and can degrade the trust between true law enforcement and the community,” said Senator Johnson (D-Bergen). “This bill would formally remove this outdated position and reduce unauthorized interference in law enforcement activities.”

 

Under the bill, S-2341, the position of constable would be eliminated in State law.  The salary provisions of an employment contract for a constable prior to the effective date of this bill would remain in effect until the contract’s expiration. However, the duties and powers granted within the contract would be deemed void.

 

According to the 2021 State Commission of Investigation report, the position of constable, which dates to the Colonial era, is unnecessary and has “no place in the highly organized and sophisticated system of modern law enforcement.” The report found numerous examples of constables who engaged in questionable and even unlawful conduct.

 

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.