JERSEY CITY – State Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) explained that his proposed bill (A4081) which involves the potential use of choke holds by law enforcement officers is meant to create clarity, particularly in light of the recent outrage stemming from the fatal Eric Garner incident on Staten Island.
“It’s to make sure that if cops are going to utilize a choke hold, at the same time they know they’re using deadly force,” said Mainor, who recently retired after 25 years as a Jersey City police officer with the rank of detective. “If they’re going to pull their gun out for deadly force because they have to shoot their weapon, the use of a choke hold would fall under the same category. A choke hold should only be used when deadly force is necessary, at the same time you only shoot your gun when deadly force is necessary.”
Mainor, who is apparently facing a primary challenge this year in the 31st Legislative District, said that he does expect difficulties from police labor unions as he tries to get the bill passed.
“I’m going to be working with the state chiefs’ association, PBA, and FOP to make sure that before this bill goes any further, we are in agreement,” Mainor said. “This bill is not something that I am forcing on anyone. If by chance [the police labor unions] feel some further discussion is necessary, I’m open to that and I’ll listen.”
Carmine Disbrow, the president of the Jersey City Police Officers’ Benevolent Association (JCPOBA), said he was open to dialogue with Mainor about the bill, but with some concerns.
“The JCPOBA in no way condones the use of excessive force, but we also have grave concerns about the use of legislation, especially in the wake of such a highly charged incident, to dictate how we are to perform our duties,” said Disbrow in an email. “We look forward to having a discussion with Assemblyman Mainor, himself a brother of the JCPOBA, to express our concerns, and to work with him to ensure that the reputations and professionalism of law enforcement officials are not unfairly attacked by misguided policies.”
Mainor added that whatever discussions take place, the bill is still worth passing.
“Every police department [in New Jersey] has a different policy, so this bill will make it uniform so every one will be on the same page throughout the state,” Mainor said. “It’s important that we all understand when is the best time that we can utilize that type of aggression.”