TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Patrick Diegnan to ensure police officers are trained in how to handle sexual assault cases was signed into law today.
The law, S-1739, establishes mandatory sexual assault training for law enforcement officers. Under the new law, the Division of Criminal Justice shall develop a training course and curriculum for law enforcement officers on the handling, investigation, and response procedures for reports of sexual assault.
“Sexual assault is a traumatic event and police officers have to be well trained in handling these cases,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “These are sensitive matters and we need our officers to be understanding of the circumstances that will unfold as an investigation develops. This law requires ongoing training to improve the ability of officers to respond effectively to these crimes.”
“Sexual assault is an unimaginable, traumatic event for the victim,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Police should be given the necessary resources on how best to respond to and handle these cases, and this law provides for that with ongoing training.”
All law enforcement officers will be required to attend this training every three years.
The training course and curriculum developed shall be reviewed at least every two years by the Division of Criminal Justice and modified as needed. The Division of Criminal Justice will make the curriculum available to all law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General will be responsible for ensuring that all law enforcement officers complete the training.
According to the 2015 Uniform Crime Report, there was a 40% increase in reported rapes in New Jersey. According to the New Jersey State Police, in 2015, a rape occurred every 6 hours and 26 minutes. There were over 1,362 reported rapes in New Jersey in 2015, a 43% increase from the 950 reported in 2014.
S-1739 was approved by the Senate and the Assembly in June. The law will take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment.