TRENTON – Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5), of Camden, is seeking to introduce a bill to increase penalties for those who make false police reports.
Norcross, who chairs the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, announced his intentions on Thursday. The bill was spurred by the case of a woman who gave fake information to police involving several sexual assaults in Camden.
As a result of the assault report, more than two dozen city police officers and detectives, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office detectives, state troopers, K-9 units, a victim witness advocate and a sexual assault nurse were dispatched.
The officials launched a five- to six-hour investigation that cost the public hundreds of thousands of dollars, Norcross said. “This is a waste of precious police resources, manpower and dollars when we can least afford them,” the senator said in a statement.
The Prosecutor’s office issued the woman a summons, the highest penalty allowed by law. Norcross said he will introduce legislation to change that, and tie the severity of the charges to the severity of the crime being misreported.
Prosecutor Warren Faulk said that he would have charged the woman with a harsher penalty if he had had the authority. Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson also expressed frustration with the disruption of the investigation and the delay it caused.
“The fact is that the investigation was derailed by this individual – wasting time, effort and money,” Thomson said in a statement.
“We need to hold people accountable for their actions and make sure that the punishment fits the crime,” Norcross added. “It is unacceptable for anyone to endanger their entire community by abusing these valuable public resources.”
Norcross is the chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, which will have jurisdiction over the bill.