(PRNJ) Probation officers denied CCW


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Nathaniel Firethorn
January 13, 2005, 10:14 AM
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1105599562183670.xml
Probation officers challenge ruling against guns
Judiciary says law allowing them to carry weapons violates constitution
Thursday, January 13, 2005
BY MARGARET McHUGH
Star-Ledger Staff

The state Attorney General's Office and the union for New Jersey's 2,000 probation officers yesterday tried to persuade an appellate panel to overturn a ruling that struck down a law allowing the officers to carry guns.

The probation officers' boss, the state judiciary, argued that the Legislature overstepped its authority when it created the 2002 law, violating the state constitution's separation of power between government branches and trouncing the judiciary's basic mission of impartial justice.

"It transfers them (probation officers) from employees that are impartial into gun-toting policemen," said attorney Cynthia Jacob, who argued for the judiciary.

The 2002 law creating a special unit of 200 probation officers to carry firearms and enforce criminal law never took effect because the judiciary challenged it.

New Jersey is one of at least 17 states that do not allow probation officers to carry guns, according to a 2001-02 survey by the American Probation and Parole Association. Some states require probation officers to carry guns, others make it optional, while some leave it up to local jurisdictions to decide, according to the survey. Federal probation officers carry guns, according to the Probation Association of New Jersey.

The association, which represents 2,000 probation officers and 800 supervisors, argued officers should be allowed to carry guns for their protection.

"I believe the safety issue is critical," said David Fox, the association's attorney. The association has been tracking incidents in which probation officers have been threatened and assaulted.

Appellate Judge Edith Payne said the matter to be considered by the panel "is much more than simply safety issues." The issue, Payne said, is the transformation of what the judiciary views the probation department to be to what the Legislature envisions.

Probation officers supervise 130,000 adult defendants and 20,000 juveniles, and that many of them go on to commit other crimes, Fox said. The state Administrative Office of the Courts said there were only 62,950 adults and 13,500 juveniles who actually required supervision by officers as of Dec. 31.

George Christie, president of the association, said the AOC was "just playing with the numbers."

Probation officers carry pepper spray and handcuffs and wear body armor, and allowing them to carry guns is just another way to protect themselves, Fox said. He said probation officers already have some law enforcement power, making about 1,500 arrests a year.

Jacob noted those arrests are for probation violations, and probation officers are not allowed to enforce the state's criminal laws. Probation officers' mission is rehabilitation, and that of law enforcement officers is prosecution of criminals, she said.

"Those two duties are in conflict with each other," she said.

Andrea Sullivan, special counsel for the Attorney General's Office, cited numerous examples of the Legislature enacting laws that impinge on the judiciary, such as dictating the number of judges in each county and requiring the chief justice to report to the Legislature about wiretaps and domestic violence restraining orders.

In fact, Sullivan noted, the Legislature created the probation department and has revised the law in 1954, 1972 and 1991 without challenge by the judiciary. "How is it unconstitutional when it wasn't before?" she asked.

Jacob's answer: The other changes didn't "invade our constitutional obligations and our constitutional rights."

The 2002 law also would have probation officers answering to both the judicial and executive branches, since the firearms training they would undergo would be supervised by the Attorney General's Office, Jacob noted.

Whatever way the appellate panel rules, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, although Chief Justice Deborah Poritz will not participate as she was involved in the decision to challenge the law.

Margaret McHugh covers the Morris County Courthouse. She can be reached at mmchugh@starled ger.com or (973) 539-7119.In other news, the Salem nuclear reactor is going online, despite a cracked pump. Get ready for two meltdowns in PRNJ... :fire:

- pdmoderator

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Hawkmoon
January 13, 2005, 11:02 AM
Jacob noted those arrests are for probation violations, and probation officers are not allowed to enforce the state's criminal laws. Probation officers' mission is rehabilitation, and that of law enforcement officers is prosecution of criminals, she said.
Hmmm ...

I always thought the job of LEOs was to enforce the laws, and that the gummint paid prosecutors to prosecute (alleged) criminals. Sounds to me like the attorney representing the judges needs to go back to law school for a Law 101 refresher.

That aside, the idea that only 200 out of several thousand probation officers should be allowed to carry firearms to defend themselves seems a bit obtuse.

armoredman
January 13, 2005, 11:10 AM
It took some fighting here in AZ to allow parole officers to carry, in a state where open carry is normal! Good luck to NJ - I wouln'dt live there on a bet, nor would I ever vacation there. Sorry.

Flyboy
January 13, 2005, 11:33 AM
I say don't let 'em.

If the citizens can't carry, neither should the government.

WT
January 13, 2005, 12:08 PM
Screw 'em. If they don't like it they can go on strike.

geekWithA.45
January 13, 2005, 12:12 PM
Focusing on abstract separation of powers issues, worrying about whether the presence of guns turns probation officers into leos, while entirely missing the higher order points of the fact that

A) people fundamentally have the right to be armed, LEO or not and
B) probation officer is one of those jobs that paints a bullseye on your back and
C)mandates that you interact with folks more likely to carry out their threats than the average bear.

:banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

Can we please, please, please just wall the damned state off, like the cask of amontillado?

I mean, how hard would it be to secure the bridges and start patrolling the Delaware river?

RavenVT100
January 13, 2005, 12:15 PM
Can we please, please, please just wall the damned state off, like the cask of amontillado?

1. There are many of us still "trapped" here.

2. There are still pockets of conservatives, and indeed the state has become more conservative lately and continues to become more conservative over time.

3. NJ is held up by gun prohibitionists in other states as an 'example' for their states to follow.

Master Blaster
January 13, 2005, 12:38 PM
I think this is ridiculous, probation officers deal with violent offenders who are likely to be carring guns illegally, they need to be armed to do their jobs.

Perhaps this attorney and the judges who decided this should be required to go along with a probation officer for a month or so, into those dangerous neighborhoods, and deal with the violent offenders, unarmed of course.

Hawkmoon
January 13, 2005, 12:50 PM
Perhaps this attorney and the judges who decided this should be required to go along with a probation officer for a month or so, into those dangerous neighborhoods, and deal with the violent offenders, unarmed of course.
Methinks the message would be a lot clearer if they were sent instead of the parole officers, not with them.

WT
January 13, 2005, 01:05 PM
The parole officers can express their right of free choice. They can walk away from their jobs if they feel that they are being placed in danger. McDonald's has a crying need for hamburger flippers. Obviously, the danger is overblown because no mass walkouts have occurred.

I cannot recall when one of the 2,800 PO's was killed or seriously injured by a client. Really, who messes with PO's who can send them back to the slammer? Come on, give me a NJ PO's name.

I don't like parole officers, members of the judiciary, enforcing criminal laws. There is no separation of state powers in this case. The PO works for the judge. Theoretically the judge, on a slow day, could order the PO to go out and arrest somebody and then try him.

I had some parolees working for me. Their PO came to the jobsite once. She wanted to see the parolee's worksite but she so physically fat that she couldn't walk up a single flight of stairs. She never came again, relied on me for weekly reports. Heck, I should apply for a state pension from the parole board after doing their work.

CannibalCrowley
January 13, 2005, 01:11 PM
Misleading thread title. They weren't "denied CCW". They can still apply for a permit like everyone else. If their job is really that dangerous, then they would've already applied for their permits. If even a probation officer can't be approved for a CCW permit, then he either shouldn't be one or they should work on getting the law changed for everyone.

Dbl0Kevin
January 13, 2005, 01:28 PM
I don't like parole officers, members of the judiciary, enforcing criminal laws. There is no separation of state powers in this case. The PO works for the judge. Theoretically the judge, on a slow day, could order the PO to go out and arrest somebody and then try him.

In NJ the Prosecutor and Assistant Prosecutors are allowed to carry. Probation officers deal with criminals more closely than AP's do. They should be given the same rights. But then again this IS NJ. :cuss:

geekWithA.45
January 13, 2005, 01:59 PM
1. There are many of us still "trapped" here.

It's OK. We'll have agents posted at the border to vouch for folks who know the secret handshake, and setup an underground railroad to spirit out the last couple dozen or so Americans.


:neener:

Nathaniel Firethorn
January 13, 2005, 05:02 PM
I say don't let 'em.

If the citizens can't carry, neither should the government.++

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Dead
January 13, 2005, 06:42 PM
I hate to say this, but they should NOT be allowed to carry if the people are not.. Hey they are just average citizens.

Standing Wolf
January 13, 2005, 09:57 PM
If the citizens can't carry, neither should the government.

Clever.

I'd be more inclined to say if government can be armed, so can the people in charge of government, which is to say: the voters.

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