TRENTON, NJ – Legislation (A-3344) from Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose and Assemblyman Parker Space, approved today by the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, affirming that a sheriff may also function as the county coordinator in an emergency or disaster.
Under the current law, a sheriff can not hold any other civil office, with the exception of the “office of county disaster control coordinator.” In 1989, virtually all other statutory references to “disaster control coordinator” were updated to the current phrase, “emergency management coordinator.”
“This is a common sense change in language that brings the law inline with the original intent,” said McHose, R – Sussex, Warren and Morris. “A statute on the books carves out an exception so a county sheriff can also serve in an emergency role but that title no longer exists. Obviously, this was an oversight and this bill corrects the mistake.”
“An outdated title shouldn’t interfere with important command-and-control issues during critical events,” said Space, R – Sussex, Warren and Morris. “When a county is hit with a disaster, there can be no question about who is calling the shots. That should be the sheriff.”
The Senate version of the bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Oroho, S-2109, passed the upper house in June,40-0, was also released from the committee.
Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada worked with the legislators in getting the bill drafted. “Steve, Alison, and Parker came through again,” said Strada. “This is a simple fix, yet it is not always easy to get a bill through the process in Trenton. Hopefully it can get passed the Assembly and to the Governor’s desk in the near future.”