(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to establish a sexual assault training course for law enforcement officers received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“We cannot tolerate a culture in which victims of sexual assault lack confidence in the men and women responsible for responding to them,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Developing a course so that officers can receive training on dealing with sexual assault appropriately will encourage reporting and reinforce our state’s commitment to justice for every resident.”
The bill (A-2167) would require the Division of Criminal Justice to develop or approve a training course and curriculum for law enforcement officers on handling, investigation and response procedures for reports of sexual assault. Under the bill, the curriculum must be made available to all the law enforcement agencies in the state. Lastly, the bill would require all law enforcement officers to attend an in-service program on the handling of sexual assault matters every three years.
“There is no excuse for law enforcement officers putting victims of sexual violence through further suffering with insensitive questioning or treatment that causes a sense of shame. That kind of behavior discourages many victims from coming forward and allows attackers to commit the same offense repeatedly without consequence,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Sexual assault is a crime, and this bill will help law enforcement officers – the men and women whose job it is to protect and serve New Jersey residents – better perform their duties.”
“Many victims of sexual assault fail to report their abuse out of embarrassment and fear,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is important not only for the well-being of the victim but for the integrity of the investigation that law enforcement officers know how to handle these cases. Having officers who are properly trained to assist these victims can ensure that victims get the help they need and officers are able to get the information needed to bring their perpetrators to justice.”
The bill was approved 72-0 by the Assembly, and 38-0 by the Senate.