The Melvin Santiago bill, also known as “Melvin Santiago’s Law” – named after the slain Jersey City police detective – which will expand the scope of laws regulating NJ security guards, was unanimously advanced by the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee last week.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The bill (S2977), which Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) introduced back in March, would expand the scope of the Security Officer Registration Act (SORA).
“Melvin Santiago was just beginning his career in law enforcement. His shooting was a grave tragedy,” Garcia said in a statement.
“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.”
Garcia, the original sponsor of the Assembly bill (A-4105) testified before the committee on behalf of the legislation.
“The components of Melvin Santiago’s Law will bring us closer to that goal of ensuring the proper training and equipment for security officers and will reduce the chances of future tragedies from occurring,” he said at the hearing.
Also testifying in support were law enforcement members, Donna Roman Hernandez of Blue Line Radio, and Agueda Santiago, an aunt of Santiago.
Another one of Santiago’s aunts, Agueda Santiago, said on behalf of the family that: “I am aware and fully support the Melvin Santiago Law and ask that this bill be moved through the Legislature.”
The bill now heads to the floor of the Senate for a vote and is referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
Santiago was killed in the parking lot of the Jersey City Walgreen’s back in July, getting shot by an assailant who disarmed a security guard working at the store – located near the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
As Garcia previously explained to Hudson County View, the bill would require potential armed security guards to be 18 years or older in order to be considered for employment, and would also mandate that the guards be trained under the standards set forth by the Superintendent of State Police.