- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman is resigning to take a job as the top lawyer at Rutgers University.

Rutgers University announced Hoffman’s hiring Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Chris Christie, who named Hoffman to the state’s top law enforcement post in June 2013, said in a statement that he “helped to lead our state’s efforts in fighting crime with a successful focus on our urban communities, while addressing the heroin and opiate epidemic in our state.”

At Rutgers, the 50-year-old Marlton resident will oversee an office of about 18 attorneys. He is expected to begin work there in mid-March. It wasn’t immediately known who will act as interim attorney general after he leaves.

Hoffman told The Associated Press Thursday that he considered the attorney general’s job “an almost unexplainable privilege.”

“I can’t stress enough what an incredible honor and privilege it’s been to serve the state,” he said. “It meant a lot to me and always will.”

During Hoffman’s tenure, the attorney general’s office has focused on gang violence and the rise in heroin and opiate addiction, and took steps toward outfitting police with body cameras. It also revised guidelines on the use of excessive force by police.

Hoffman praised the multilevel efforts to combat the widening drug problem through expanding drug courts and mental health diversion programs, starting a prescription monitoring program and expanding law enforcement’s access to Narcan, a drug that can quickly reverse heroin overdoses.

“That sends a message that in this fight, we’re not leaving anyone behind,” he said.

Christie named Hoffman to replace then-Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa in 2013 when Chiesa resigned to serve out the U.S. Senate term of the late Frank Lautenberg.

Hoffman had been executive assistant attorney general, and before that had headed the Division of Investigations in the state Comptroller’s Office.

Christie didn’t put Hoffman up for confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which kept the “acting” in his job title. Hoffman said Thursday that it didn’t detract from his ability to do his job.

“Never for a second in this job have I felt it has made one bit of difference,” he said. “I’ve never been treated inside or outside this building as anything but the state attorney general. I never felt it was an issue.”

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