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Voice of the People, Jan. 10, 2021

Voice of the People, Jan. 10, 2021

  • 9

Few answers on breaks

What’s the difference between taking money actually in the state Treasury and giving it away to private businesses, or bestowing tax credits to these same private interests? Seems to me that they are the same thing, except that the tax credit scheme allows appointed officials (appointed by elected officials) to distribute large sums of money to favored recipients without consequences for elected officials.

This is just one of the ways the Democrat-dominated N.J. Legislature, and the complicit N.J. Supreme Court, circumvent constitutionally mandated borrowing limits and obscure accountability. The money for these distributions doesn’t have to be budgeted for, since as a credit it doesn’t exist. Yet the lack of revenue severely affects the fiscal health of the state’s finances and contributes to New Jersey’s enormous, growing and mostly unconstitutional state debt.

Currently, an investigation initiated by Gov. Phil Murphy into the propriety and legality of past tax credit awards is underway. Do taxpayers of New Jersey think this investigation will produce significant results? Slim chance of that. Then why did the Legislature recently, and rapidly, approve a massive $14.8 billion business tax break bill? Why would the governor sign it before the ongoing investigation is concluded?

So many questions, very few answers.

Douglas H. Stroz

Egg Harbor Township

Police human, fallible

Police officers, when faced with potentially dangerous situations, have attentional load limitations and can miss things that are obvious with hindsight. To hold them strictly accountable by policy language will not change that.

Deleting terms such as “reasonably believes” or “reasonably necessary” from this policy language is contrary to the law and ignores the fact that things are not always as they appear and assumes that human beings — police officers — will 1) immediately have all the information necessary to make a decision and 2) have the mental capacity under stress to make the correct decision.

The terms “reasonably believes” or “reasonably necessary” flow from the Supreme Court of the United States and the seminal decision of Graham v. Connor. The court recognized that officers need to make split-second, life-or-death decisions that are not capable of precise definition or mechanical application, and those decisions are to be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene and not with the benefit of hindsight. The objective reasonableness standard accepts the reality that officers must make the best call they can with whatever information is available to them, and sometimes that call will turn out to be wrong.

To restrict use of force by eliminating any reference to the objective reasonableness legal standard is misguided and will pose a significant legal threat to officers and departments as it exists as an acceptance of the realities officers face in high-stress, use of force encounters. Removing it will not have the desired effect on officers’ behavior, it will only reject reality and makes officers strictly liable should they reasonably but mistakenly perceive a threat.

In so many areas of society, we tacitly take for granted that humans are prone to mistakes when faced with rapidly evolving situations. So why do so many people fail to consider human error when evaluating police use of force? Then again, maybe the question really should be, how can we place police officers in such critical situations and hold them strictly accountable for reasonable perceptions when we are surrounded in everyday life by the reality of human shortcomings?

Steve Cupani


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