LETTER: Newark FOP Pres to AG Porrino – NJ Bail Reform – “We have a crisis on our hands – authority of police on the street diminished”

In a bold move to fix New Jersey’s failing bail reform, Newark Fraternal Order of Police President James Stewart, Jr. wrote a letter on March 8, 2017 to Attorney General Christopher Porrino detailing the failures of bail reform and warning that “we have a crisis on our hands.

US Bail Reform News was able to obtain a copy of the letter…

Now there are cops bringing in suspects for aggravated assaults, possession of weapons, for large amounts of narcotics, and those charges are being downgraded right there at the precinct by an on-scene Assistant Prosecutor. Instead of Warrants, the charges are going on a Summons, the prisoners being released with just a signature, and a promise they will be good from now on…These one-man crime waves can not keep being released back upon the community.

The cops out on the street, the first responders out there running toward danger, going after the bad guys, all know about Probable Cause, and they know about the elements of the crimes that lead to the charges levied against the suspects they encounter. It has been a system that has worked for decades and decades.

– James Stewart, Jr, President, Newark FOP Lodge #12


March 8, 2017

Mr. Christopher S. Porrino, New Jersey Attorney General

Dear Mr. Porrino,

I am writing to you today because I need help. I am writing to you today because the citizens of Newark need help. Bail Reform and Prosecutor Screening is running Newark off the tracks and everybody seems to be standing on the platform watching it happen. This simply can NOT be what was envisioned when this concept was on the drawing board.

The cops out on the street, the first responders out there running toward danger, going after the bad guys, all know about Probable Cause, and they know about the elements of the crimes that lead to the charges levied against the suspects they encounter. It has been a system that has worked for decades and decades.

Now things have changed. Now there are cops bringing in suspects for aggravated assaults, possession of weapons, for large amounts of narcotics, and those charges are being downgraded right there at the precinct by an on-scene Assistant Prosecutor. Instead of Warrants, the charges are going on a Summons, the prisoners being released with just a signature, and a promise they will be good from now on…

I have example after example, just here in Newark, of criminals being arrested, only to be released under Bail Reform, and getting arrested again within days. This creates more crime. This creates more VICTIMS.

  • Roger Thomas was arrested on 1/26/2017 for 2 church burglaries. He was released. On 2/6/2017 he was arrested again for burglarizing the same church on 2/2/2017. He was released again on 2/7/2017. He has been arrested at least 46 previous times.
  • Josh Winstead was arrested on 2/1/2017 lor burglary to auto and charged additionally with a
    crime from 1/12/2017. He was released. On 2/15/2017 he was arrested again for breaking
    into 3 more cars. He has been arrested more than 100 limes in New Jersey, North Carolina
    and Georgia
  • Martin Sanchez was slated on 1/27/2017 for burglary and possession of burglary tools in
    Harrison. On 2/13/2017 he was arrested again for burglary and obstructing in Newark. The
    next day, 2/14/2017, he was again arrested, this time in Kearny. He has at least 18 arrests.
  • Josh Nieves was arrested 1/13/2017 in Belleville for shoplifting. He was arrested again in
    Newark on 2/2/2017 for burglary. He has been arrested at least 42 prior times.
  • Amir Copeland recently made national news when his life was saved by a Newark Sergeant
    after he jumped into a river in an attempt to elude capture after a vehicle pursuit. On
    1/20/2017 he was arrested for receiving stolen auto in Newark. On 2/3/2017 he was arrested
    for the same charge in Union. On 2/15/2017 he lead police in a chase through multiple
    jurisdictions in yet another stolen auto before crashing and jumping into the river.
  • Furad Fleming was arrested on 2/12/2017 for possession of 548 bags of heroin within a
    school zone and $380 was confiscated. On 2/23/2017 he was arrested for the same charges
    and 95 bags of heroin and $154 was confiscated. On 2/28/2017 he was identified as a
    suspect in a robbery. He has been arrested 14 times.

I believe the original intent of Bail Reform, at least as it was sold to the public, was to create
the possibility that violent criminals could be held without bail. Instead, it has created a
literal revolving door in the holding cell, putting habitual criminals right back on the street.

Is this what we want? Is this what the community we serve wants? This practice must be
reevaluated and a better solution brought to the table.

The authority of the police in the street is being diminished. Radio cars are being tied up in
the precinct awaiting call backs from on-call assistant prosecutors or judges during off hours,
creating a backlog of calls for service from the citizens. Overtime is mounting for cops
handling late assignments. Suspects are being released, potentially near victims that have
identified them, creating a public safety issue. What message are we sending to law
enforcement? What message are we sending to the citizens we are serving?

The cops work the street, 24/7, 365 days a year. The assistant prosecutors handle the
courtroom side of things. The cops need probable cause, the attorneys are looking for
beyond a reasonable doubt. We can not have the attorneys working along side the police
officers while they have one eye down the road thinking about how the court case will go, the
process is doomed to fail. The citizens will be the ones left to suffer.

Again, I ask for your help. We have a crisis on our hands. We have police officers being told everything they have learned, all their experience on the street, no longer matters. We can not continue to browbeat our men and women out on the street, have them stand by as charges are reduced, or simply dismissed, before the paperwork is even started, and then have career criminals walk out the door before the last report is signed.

Law enforcement has not asked for this. The community has not asked for this. It just leaves me one more question. Who did ask for this?

Thank you for your time. Should you need to speak to me directly, or have any inquiries regarding this issue, I am always available.

James Stewart, Jr., President, Newark FOP Lodge #12



You’ve been LIED to New Jersey…NJ Bail Reform is RECKLESS, DANGEROUS, and YOU are PAYING for it.

Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

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