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NJ corrections officers closer to better off-duty protection

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

SHOUT OUT: The NJ Sentae today unanimously approved a measure that would give corrections officers the same protections as police officers when they’re while off duty and out of uniform.

If the state Assembly agrees and Gov. Christie signs it into law, the measure upgrades attacks on corrections and certain law enforcement officers because of their jobs from simple to aggravated assault.

Currently, corrections officers need to be in uniform for that to happen.

The fact that ex-cons and released inmates often live in the same communities as corrections officers makes the new law necessary, said Richard Brown, chairman of the New Jersey State PBA Corrections Committee.

“Most of them live in your community, and when you’re with your family … It’s scary,” Brown said. “This lets it be known that corrections officers aren’t going to be sitting ducks.”

Patrick Colligan, president of the New Jersey State PBA, said:

“This is about parity. If you wear the law enforcement uniform, you deserve the protection.

“Corrections officers are playing a critical role every day in the fight to keep our streets safe and our neighborhoods secure, and they deserve to have the same protections as anyone else wearing the uniform, regardless of whether they are on or off duty.”

The move toward upgrading the crime gained momentum after a trio in August 2012 assaulted a Cumberland County corrections officer inside a 7-Eleven after recognizing him from jail.

They couldn’t be prosecuted on aggravated assault charge, however, because the officer wasn’t on the clock.

When it got to court, the charges were downgraded to disorderly conduct.

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