TRENTON – The full Senate today unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey and Senator John A. Girgenti that would provide New Jersey with the legal mechanism to enter into a mutual aid agreement with other states, such as New York, allowing law enforcement to work together to provide increased security.
“New Jersey and New York are home to some of the most targeted infrastructure in the country, in terms of terrorist interests,” said Sen. Codey (D-Essex). “It’s essential that we have the tools necessary to work together to eliminate and respond to threats and potential dangers.”
Bill S-2757 would adopt Article 15 of the federal Interstate Civil Defense and Disaster Compact. Under this compact, participating states are authorized by Congress to enter into mutual aid agreements regarding disaster training, preparedness, and response.
“As Chairman of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, my obligation is to ensure the security of all of our citizens,” said Sen. Girgenti (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This bill will increase our level of vigilance and diligence in protecting our region.”
Sen. Codey noted that this compact is especially useful in terms of allowing New Jersey law enforcement to respond or guard against terrorist activities related to transportation assets that serve across state lines. This kind of agreement clarifies that local law enforcement can respond to these threats as well.
Sen. Girgenti noted that the bill provides New Jersey with the legal authority to work together with other states on matters pertaining to:
* search and rescue operations;
* operations responding to disasters or designed to increase capability to cope with any disasters;
* incidents, or the imminence thereof, which endanger the health or safety of the public and which require the use of special equipment, trained personnel or personnel in larger numbers than are locally available;
* the giving and receiving of aid by subdivisions of party states; and
* exercises, drills or other training or practice activities designed to aid personnel to prepare for, cope with, or prevent any disaster or other emergency to which this compact applies.
The bill also authorizes subdivisions of the state, including state agencies, local governments and joint agencies of any two or more participating states to provide aid as well. The bill would also clarify that any joint agency providing such aid shall be entitled to reimbursement to the same extent and in the same manner as a state. The bill would further extend to personnel of a joint agency, the same rights, authority and immunity as personnel of party states.
Sen. Codey noted that the state Attorney General the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security have both offered their support of this bill, paving the way for New Jersey to forge joint enterprises with other states, particularly New York, to increase homeland security efforts.
The bill now awaits final approval by the full Assembly.