Ewing, NJ – A New Jersey radio host is facing backlash from law enforcement groups and their supporters, after she penned an opinion piece criticizing a state law that requires drivers to move over for emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder of roadways.
“It’s a silly law,” New Jersey 101.5 radio host Judi Franco wrote in an article she titled, “Dead Cops Make Bad Laws.”
“Duh. No one is going to deliberately run into to someone on the side of a road,” Franco declared. “A dead cop is sad. But a horrible tragedy doesn’t warrant a law that puts other drivers at risk…”
The state’s Move Over Law went into effect in January of 2009, approximately 18 months before New Jersey State Police Trooper Marc Castellano was hit by a motorist while he was searching for a suspect on the side of the Garden State Parkway, the Asbury Park Press reported.
Franco wrote the opinion piece in opposition to a proposed expansion of the law, which is currently punishable by a fine of up to $500.
If approved, the expansion would add two motor vehicle points to the potential penalty for those who violate the state law.
“We don’t need this law…People who don’t move over are most likely not ‘ignoring’ the law. Rather, they are being cautious,” Franco wrote. “If you can move over safely, you probably will.”
It's not clear if Franco has ever actually witnessed people driving in New Jersey.
Franco claimed that, since the Move Over Law originally went into effect, she has noticed “a hazardous trend” of drivers “panicking” when they don’t spot emergency vehicles until it’s “too late.”
“Plus, it is already difficult to enforce because the cops who would give you a ticket for not moving over are already occupied doing whatever they’re doing on the side of the road, which is why you have to move over in the first place!” she railed.
New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association President Wayne Blanchard admonished Franco for her article on Wednesday, the Asbury Park Press reported.
In a statement, Blanchard accused Franco of “trampling on the graves of fallen police officers” in a “meager attempt to stir the pot for ratings.”
“The sad reality in Franco’s hatred of law enforcement is her ignorance to the importance of this public safety principle,” Blanchard told the New Jersey Globe. “Police officers and other first responders, more often than not are dispatched to roadside encounters such as motor vehicle accidents and motorist aids.”
“What has clearly gone over Franco’s head in this instance is that she could be one of those motorists assessing damage to her vehicle on the side of the road with an investigating officer or trooper,” he added.
New Jersey Senator Vin Gopal said Franco’s opinion piece was “disgraceful and disgusting,” and asked the radio station to issue an apology, the Asbury Park Press reported.
“The lack of common sense and common decency displayed by New Jersey 101.5 host Judi Franco has surpassed even my lowest of expectations,” Gopal said, according to the New Jersey Globe. “To use the loss of a brave State Police Officer as click bait in order to prove her misguided opinions trivializes the tragic death of Marc Castellano.”
“‘A dead cop is sad,’ is how she trivializes this law – this is disgraceful and disgusting,” the senator continued. “101.5 owes all of law enforcement an apology. If this bi-partisan bill saves the life of one law enforcement professional, it is well worth it.”
The radio station released a statement acknowledging the “strong opinions and viewpoints” of their employees, but issued no apologies for Franco’s opinion piece, the Asbury Park Press reported.
"Our talk hosts at New Jersey 101.5 are chosen because they offer strong opinions and viewpoints,” the statement read. “We understand not everyone will agree with them — they frequently disagree with one another — and that's why we encourage our listeners to reach out on-air and online.”
“Our goal isn't to tell anyone what to think, but to give our hosts the space to start conversations,” the radio station said.