Under current law if a vehicle or vessel is driven recklessly and causes a serious bodily injury it is a fourth degree crime. Serious bodily injury creates a large or substantial risk of death or causes disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of any bodily member or organ (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A1000/676_S1.PDF). That action causing physical pain, illness or impairment is ‘bodily injury.’ Bill A676 would upgrade this crime of assault to a crime of the third degree which in turn would qualify it for further and more severe prosecution. This would bring about an increase from imprisonment of up to 18 month and a possible fine of up to 10,000 to a three to five year term of imprisonment with a possible fine of up to 15,000.
As a Police Officer it is possible to be influential in the passing of bills and creation of new laws by acting as advocates and supporting lobbyist who represent the criminal justice sector and its promotion. Criminal justice agencies are extremely important in getting bills through the Legislature with the use of media contacts and public appeal. This involves getting the general public on board and in agreement with criminal justice agencies and proposed changes or recommendations in laws. Frequently and unfortunately it takes a tragic act to attract attention to areas of the law which need improvement and a better balance.
Criminal justice agencies should definitely have a say and opinion in which laws are passed and how and what resources are located to which departments, in order of importance and interest of the public. Agencies usually are on the front line when dealing with the issues that Legislators are merely discussing and reviewing. They are not such as the Officer who constantly sees faulty policy or complete lack of policy in some cases and are best able to recognize the difference and improvements possible through the use of the agencies