NEWARK — For at least a little while, drivers and others with minor infractions on their records in Newark can avoid being arrested while still dealing with the financial stresses of the pandemic.

Mayor Ras Baraka and Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara have announced a new policy for how police will handle outstanding traffic warrants and other "non-indictable bench warrants" for disorderly persons offenses of $500 or less.

The process does not include domestic violence incidents, which are still grounds for arrest.

Officers can still stop individuals and will write-up the encounter in a report — including outstanding warrant number, criminal charge, date issued and updated address and contact number of the wanted person — and send the reports to Newark Municipal Court.

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The procedure is in effect until further notice.

"This will allow the officers to remain on the streets, in the neighborhoods where their presence is needed," O’Hara said. "The last thing people need right now is to lose time from their jobs and families for these minor offenses."

“Many people have experienced financial setbacks due to COVID-19, and we want to lessen their burdens, not make them worse, especially during an already difficult and stressful time in their lives,” Baraka said. “We’re not excusing the outstanding warrants; we’re simply extending the appropriate courtesy called for during this pandemic."

The mayor also said "I believe it is especially critical that we reduce the possibility of people having negative encounters with police over such minor offenses.”

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