Bill barring Port Authority badges for officials advances
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Official badges for officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, like the one a former commissioner was recorded using in a traffic stop, would be barred under legislation New Jersey lawmakers advanced Thursday.
The Democrat-led Senate Transportation Committee approved the measure with little debate in committee, and it goes next to the floor for a vote. The bill would bar New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority from issuing to board members badges that can be mistaken for those used by law enforcement.
It comes about five months after video surfaced showing former Port Authority Commissioner Caren Turner delivering an at-times profane speech to a police officer during a traffic stop in Tenafly. She resigned this year and apologized.
Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole had ordered a review of the practice of giving badges to commissioners and said in June that commissioners volunteered to give up their badges. He cited a “lack of utility.”
On March 31, Tenafly police pulled over a vehicle carrying Turner’s daughter over expired registration. Turner showed up and tried to pull rank on the officers, eventually shouting an expletive at them, according to police dash cam video.
In a statement, Turner apologized but said she wasn’t trying to use her post to get special treatment. She said police should “review best practices with respect to tone and de-escalation, so that incidents like this do not recur.”
An effort to reach Turner on Thursday was unsuccessful.
It’s unclear exactly how many badges targeted by the law are in circulation. The governors of New York and New Jersey control the Port Authority by appointing commissioners to its board, with each picking six. They serve for a six-year term and are unpaid.
A spokesman for the Port Authority, which operates airports, bridges, ports and tunnels in the New York area, said previously that the badges were given to commissioners for purposes of identification. O’Toole said in June the agency was moving instead toward ID cards for commissioners.
An identical measure has been introduced in New Jersey’s Assembly, though the bill cannot be enforced unless New York passes similar legislation.