New Legislation Strips Power of New Jersey SPCA
FREEHOLD – Just prior to leaving the Governor’s Office, Chris Christie signed into law a bill that moves the law enforcement powers related to animal cruelty cases to County Prosecutors, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
“Monmouth County residents will likely not notice any significant changes in the way animal cruelty cases are handled as a result of this legislation because this new law recognizes the model we have employed here for many years. This law was designed with our input and real-world experiences,” Gramiccioni noted.
Under the newly revised statute, the power of humane law enforcement was transferred from the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) to County Prosecutors. Each municipality and police department will be required to designate a municipal humane law enforcement officer. The law also requires each County Prosecutor to designate an Animal Cruelty Prosecutor to investigate, prosecute, and take other legal action as appropriate for violations of the animal cruelty laws of the state.
“Our Office already has an assistant prosecutor assigned to these types of cases. This is something we have been doing for years in Monmouth County and it provides additional leverage for prosecution in extreme cruelty cases, where we can indict and convict those who commit heinous acts of cruelty on defenseless animals,” Gramiccioni explained.
The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA) Humane Police Department is led by Chief Enforcement Officer Ross Licitra, a retired Detective Lieutenant from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The second highest ranking Humane Law Enforcement Officer at the MCSPCA is Lieutenant Tom Nuccio, who is also a retired Detective Sergeant from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Both Licitra and Nuccio retired in 2011.
A 2017 year-end review of animal cruelty cases in Monmouth County illustrates the partnership between the county Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Humane Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Last year there were 425 calls placed regarding animal cruelty cases, and there were 14 convictions for animal cruelty-related offenses. A total of $19,855.00 in fines for violations was imposed with an additional $5,568.00 in civil penalties.
“I am proud that our cooperative partnership in Monmouth County contributed to this new law and will serve as a model for other counties in their humane law enforcement efforts. Having law enforcement professionals focused on animal safety protects our fur families and holds those who commit crimes against these living beings more accountable,” Gramiccioni said.
To report suspected cruelty to animals in Monmouth County, call the county SPCA at 732-542-0040.
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