LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

AG’s office gets the word out on state’s new red flag law

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018, also known as a red flag law, took effect on Sept. 1.

On that same day, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a directive giving prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement agencies guidelines on how to implement the new law.

The controversial gun violence prevention legislation allows family, household members or law enforcement to flag individuals that they deem to be a danger to themselves or others by filing a petition. Following a hearing, the court may then decide to strip the flagged individual of their gun rights.

Grewal’s approach to implementing the law is centered around informing the public about the recourse they can take if they believe they’re in a dangerous situation. His office held its first community engagement training event at Princeton University on Thursday.

The presenters emphasized that a petition has to be filed in a court or law enforcement agency in the same county where the person they believe to be at-risk lives. If that person is out of state, it has to be filed where the petitioner lives.

For a temporary extreme risk protective order, the petitioner must allege that the person poses an immediate and present danger to themselves or others, explain why he or she would pose a danger with a firearm and also include the number, type and location of any firearms or ammunition believed to already be in the individual’s possession.

A dozen temporary extreme risk protection orders have been filed across the state since the law went into effect nearly two weeks ago.

“We’ve already had our first extreme risk protective order here in Mercer County,” said Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri. “Happy to report everything went very smoothly with that, and it was really a credit to the law enforcement officers who handled that.”

While Thursday’s event was the first community outreach event on the new red flag law, the Attorney General says his office has already hosted 16 training sessions for law enforcement.