Police need to answer for failure to guard the Statehouse | Editorial

Published: Dec. 12, 2021

Everyone agrees it was unfortunate that the State Police were dropped into the middle of that sloppy Statehouse pie fight last week between two opposing forces, Assembly Republicans and common courtesy.

It was especially regrettable that our troopers’ impotence was exposed by a claque of lawmakers who found it intolerable to pull a piece of cardboard out of their wallets upon request. Oh, the humanity.

But that’s where our sympathy ends, because the cops have yet to answer a critical question about their role during the Trenton Insurrection of ‘21: What in the name of Barney Fife were they thinking?

The rules were clear to everyone, other than the cabal of shrieking demagogues who ignored them: Either you show proof of vaccination or a negative test, or you could not enter the Statehouse. The rules were created by a joint panel that included Republican appointees, they were printed on big placards, and they went into effect when December began.

But a few GOP lawmakers decided it was unbearable – tyranny! – to hand over their precious paperwork, so they stomped their feet and spewed some hyper-righteous patriotic blather until the security detail melted away like the Jets’ offensive line.

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We have yet to hear an adequate explanation for this amateurish performance, even though Gov. Murphy and NJSP Superintendent Pat Callahan were asked about it multiple times Wednesday.

“Security is not something we discuss as a general matter, and that includes in this case,” Murphy said, before turning the klieg lights toward the “idiocy of these ringleaders.” Callahan was no more illuminating, merely adding that they take Statehouse security “extremely seriously.”

We saw no evidence of that. We only saw a good reason why this should be outsourced to guys holding large nets, because that is how you deal with unruly inmates. Indeed, these lawmakers should not be allowed in the building if they refuse to comply; they can do their jobs remotely.

Craig Coughlin used three words to capture the security breakdown: “A colossal failure,” the Assembly Speaker called it.

A failure of duty. The troopers don’t get to decide which rules should be enforced, and they can’t choose who can flout them. Unless they see a document that proves these hyperventilating gatecrashers are not contagious, the guardians of public safety don’t get to decide who is a threat to it.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-12-13 03:29:27 -0800