TRENTON — At a committee hearing Monday, lawmakers heard testimony from state law enforcement about changing New Jersey’s policies on records management and information sharing between police departments. Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) pointed to the recent shooting in Orlando as a case where better communication between federal, state and municipal agencies might have prevented a tragedy.
“One of the things I think the public sees, even in the Orlando situation, you hear that the FBI had interviewed this person a number of times,” Greenstein said. “It’s so frustrating. I don’t know if it’s that they don’t see the potential for violence when they interview this person, or they don’t have the means to do something about it.”
The shooter in the Orlando massacre, who went on to kill 49 people, had faced FBI scrutiny for claims of family ties to terrorist groups and had been placed on a federal watch list. That step, however, failed to keep him from obtaining the semi-automatic A-15 rifle he used in the attack on a gay nightclub.
“In many cases, they have had contacts,” Greenstein said, suggesting that changes to state law may be necessary to give local police more oversight in cases where their interactions with a suspect have provided them with valuable information. “They know the person doesn’t seem right, and yet it may not rise to a certain level.”
Leaders of the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (ROIC), also known as “The Rock,” joined members of the Newark-based Real Time Crime Center and the Corr Stat program in calling for new information systems that will enable statewide collaboration between departments in all regions of the state.
A representative from the ROIC told Greenstein in his testimony that a searchable, state-wide database of possible offenders would go a long way toward improving police departments’ ability to apprehend those who move across different jurisdictions.
“I think where we need to further enhance our efforts is in the data sharing that’s done on the technology side,” he said. “Many of these systems and platforms need to speak to one another. So once we can create that system or that technology, which is out there, then we certainly enhance our information sharing environment twofold.”