‘Melvin Santiago’s Law’ advances in the state senate

JERSEY CITY — Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D- 32nd Dist.) that expands the scope of current law regulating security guards in New Jersey was advanced unanimously by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday, June 11.
The bill (S2977 in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein), entitled “Melvin Santiago’s Law,” was named in honor of the 23 year old Jersey City rookie police officer tragically killed by a suspect who grabbed a gun from a Walgreen’s security guard and open-fired on Santiago in his police vehicle as he responded to the armed robbery.
The bill expands the scope of current law regulating security guards in this State. Under the “Security Officer Registration Act,” commonly referred to as SORA, security guards employed by security guard companies are strictly regulated by the Division of State Police. This bill extends SORA’s provisions to security guards employed by private companies. Specifically, under the amended bill, any person employed as an in-house security officer by a company that maintains a proprietary or in-house security function is required to register with the Superintendent of State Police and complete an education and training course. Under current law, only security officers who are employed by a “security officer company” that furnishes security services to other entities are required to register with the superintendent.
“Melvin Santiago was just beginning his career in law enforcement. His shooting was a grave tragedy,” said Garcia. “Security guards are hired by businesses to deter potential criminal activity and protect property. They are the first on the scene and, often, the first line of communication with the police.”

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