A bill that would require the New York Police Department to alert state officials before conducting surveillance inside New Jersey was unanimously approved by an Assembly panel Monday.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, told the Assembly’s Homeland Security Committee that requiring out-of-state police agencies to provide advance notification is a matter of respect and safety.

Agencies should “respect us enough and notify us that they’re coming in to conduct a surveillance,” he said. Mainor, also a detective with the Jersey City Police Department, added that the notification is necessary to ensure law enforcement officials are aware of one another’s presence.

 “If I’m out there patrolling, I don’t know who these people are,” he said.

The act would require out-of-state law enforcement to give New Jersey’s attorney general and state police superintendant several key pieces of information before monitoring anyone inside the state. The information would include the identities of the officers involved, the targets of the surveillance, the time and location of the surveillance and an explanation of the program’s goals.

The bill next heads to the full Assembly. It has not yet been introduced in the Senate.

It comes in response to a secret NYPD surveillance program that monitored New Jersey Muslims and mosques.

The New York police watched and photographed Muslim institutions and monitored Muslim student groups at universities. They used informants to infiltrate Muslim organizations and events. The secret program, which lasted for years, was first revealed last year by The Associated Press.

State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa concluded that the NYPD’s program did not break any laws. But if Mainor’s bill becomes law, the attorney general could ask the New Jersey Superior Court to order the surveillance to stop if the out-of-state agency did not give proper notification. (www.northjersey.com)