(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Gordon Johnson, Benjie Wimberly, Tim Eustace, Vince Mazzeo and Joann Downey to revise the state’s wiretapping laws to help aid investigations into crimes such as child luring.
Specifically, the bill (A-431) would expand state statutes to authorize wiretap orders for the investigation of the following offenses or a conspiracy to commit them: luring or enticing a child, identity theft, stalking, and cyber harassment.
“Wiretaps provide a critical tool for law enforcement officials to collect evidence and carry out their duties in some of the most difficult cases,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation will help ensure that investigators can obtain a court order for a wiretap when necessary and do the job of keeping communities across New Jersey safe.”
“In order to maintain public safety, members of law enforcement agencies must have the capacity to engage in thorough criminal investigations,” said Johnson (D-Bergen), former Bergen County sheriff. “Expanding the scope of our wiretap statutes will better enable authorized parties to apprehend perpetrators and protect victims.”
“Within the confines of judicial oversight, wiretapping can be an effective means of keeping the public safe and making sure that those who commit crimes receive the appropriate punishment,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill is an important step forward for New Jersey’s criminal justice system.”
“This is a tool currently being used by law enforcement to track down various other criminals. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be utilized to help solve these crimes as well,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Expanding its use will help give law enforcement an edge over criminals who take advantage of the anonymity provided by the Internet to victimize innocent individuals.”
“Technology provides many benefits, but it also creates opportunities for some of the worst criminals,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We have read enough stories about young people being lured by predators online or cyberbullied to the point where they take their own lives. We must give law enforcement the resources needed to catch these vile individuals and keep our communities safe.”
“The internet has opened up a wave of new avenues for child predators and identify thieves, in particular,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Our hardworking men and women in law enforcement should have the authority to use technology to turn the tables on them and bring them to justice.”
Current law permits wiretapping during the investigation of certain crimes, including, but not limited to: murder, kidnapping, gambling, robbery, bribery and terrorism.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.