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President Colligan’s Letter to Congress on the Expiration of the Zadroga Act

The following letter is being sent today to the 435 members of Congress by President Colligan. The Zadroga Act expired at midnight last night, September 30, 2015, and has put the medical and financial needs of 30,000 first responders and residents near Ground Zero in peril. With the change in House leadership further complicating the politics of Congress, it is unconscionable that no action was taken. For the record, the entire New Jersey delegation was supporting the extension of the Act and all voted for it when it was last up in 2010.

Click Here to View Zadroga Act Letter

Important message from Pension Coordinator Peter Andreyev

In conjunction with the Ocean County Police Academy, we have canceled our Pension Seminar for Tuesday October 6, 2015 in anticipation of landfall of Hurricane Joaquin.  The seminar has been rescheduled for Monday November 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm.


Tags: Pension
News Alert from 1st VP Peter Andreyev

Post Retirement Employment Restrictions:

The New Jersey State PBA has received the latest fact sheet regarding post retirement employment restrictions.  Fact sheet 86 (August 2015) does a good job informing our members of the many restrictions that pertain to post retirement employment.    The pension benefits that our members receive are governed by New Jersey Statutes as well as the Internal Revenue Code.  Our pensions are considered a qualified governmental defined benefit plan in accordance with Internal Revenue Code sections 401(a) and 414(d).  In order for the State of New Jersey to keep the qualified status and to protect retirees from a 10% early distribution tax penalty on monthly pensions, the Division of Pensions was required to adopt and enforce the regulations and compliance with the IRC requirements.

The Fact Sheet has confirmed what we have been advising our members;  if you return to work with the same employer in any capacity, the member would need to have a bona fide separation of service of 180 days. The Division of Pensions has done a good job explaining and using examples of what members of the pension system can and can not do. They also clearly inform our members of the penalties that we are subject to should our members violate the IRC/Pension restrictions.

This is the most frequently asked question we get at the NJSPBA office, so take a few moments to familiarize yourself with this fact sheet.  As always, if you have questions regarding this fact sheet please call or email me at the New Jersey State PBA Office.

Peter Andreyev
NJSPBA Pension Consultant

Click Here for Fact Sheet #86

We Will Never Forget
Tags: 911
As we approach Labor Day weekend, a holiday dedicated to the American worker please take the time to read this message from President Colligan. Enjoy the holiday weekend and please stay safe!

Whether we like it or not, we live in a universe of cycles. The climate, the economy, social issues and civilization itself is cyclical. Humans can influence those cycles, but they cannot be stopped. Sometimes we are the beneficiaries and sometimes we are the victims. It’s tough to notice when things are going well, and sometimes it’s devastating when things don’t go so well.

There was no faster cycle to witness in my lifetime than September 11th, 2001. Within 24 hours we witnessed the very worst and the very best mankind could offer. A heinous, unspeakable tragedy and shortly later a country was united. An American flag on virtually every porch and an incredible, palpable change in our country that I was proud to witness and will never forget. Unfortunately that cycle was short-lived, maybe a month or two. It didn’t last as long as we all would have liked, but it sure was great while it lasted. For those who had the privilege of working during those days, anybody wearing a uniform was treated like a hero and stood on a pedestal. Military, fire, police, EMS; it didn’t matter. The city, town or state didn't matter either. I’ll never forget it, but sadly it was just another cycle.

So the cycle has changed yet again. On August 9th, 2014 our profession and many attitudes throughout our country has changed. In many respects, it has changed forever. The media now hovers like cats at a mouse hole for the next shooting. The facts surrounding the shooting used to be the story, now the first question is about the race of the actors and the officers. They want video and they want all the facts and they demand it NOW. Journalists are now treated like used car salesmen. “Page views” are the new standard by which journalism is judged. Facts and two sides of a story was the old way. Now editors base the success or failure of a writer by page views and comments. Responsible reporting is now conveniently tucked somewhere behind profits.

In 2015 we have come to tally the deaths of our brothers and sisters like a tote board at a telethon. “15….16….17 deaths since August 1st”. The leader of our country is strangely silent throughout the carnage. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit neatly into an agenda that I’ve yet to comprehend and I'm not sure I ever will. A Texas deputy is assassinated filling up his patrol car and the President of the United States goes on reality TV. A cop is ambushed, tortured and murdered in his own home and the President renames a mountain. Our Governor couldn't run away from us fast enough shortly after he took his first oath of office. He’s happier terminating entire police departments, destroying our pension & benefits and vilifying us on the campaign trail than offering his support when we need it most. Needless to say it has been a terrible year on many fronts. I'm not sure the cycle has ever been darker or deeper for us.

We've all heard the cliché; “this too shall pass”. It will, but unfortunately it will come with a tragic price. We will be burying more of our brothers and sisters and we will be forced to watch (and probably protect) protests from those with baseless agendas and those who hate us before this cycle ends. We will endure the rush to judgment by the media and the baiters who continue to profit from it. We will be second and third guessed by the “experts” and even by our own. Our profession will survive. Unfortunately the minority has a hold of the microphone right now. Their shallow and baseless narrative will grow old when they realize that nearly a million of us go to work every day in this country and do the right thing and do it extraordinarily well. We will unfortunately make tragic mistakes because we are not machines and this isn't one big TV show filled with happy endings. Our actions are often violent and ugly to watch, but the decision to make it violent and ugly rarely rests with us. Eventually, the few that are not here for the right reasons will hopefully get weeded out before they can do more damage to the rest of us.

I'll admit that there are more dangerous professions out there, but fishermen, miners and loggers aren't getting attacked and assassinated by people who hate them and that is what makes us different. They don't have to get dressed in a uniform that identifies them and constantly watch their back for someone that hates what it stands for and doesn't care who is wearing it. Other professions have accidents, we are getting murdered.

We serve in a noble and proud profession. The cycle will change and it is happening already. Know that the overwhelming majority of those we protect and serve respect and know what we do every day. Unfortunately they don't have a financed and organized agenda nor do they have the free time to keep the agenda alive. What is good and right will eventually prevail, it always does.

Until that day comes, we must play with the cards we have been dealt to us. Make a plan for situations and scenarios with your families. Keep your head on a swivel and please wear your vest. Wait for backup when you can because we don't like to bury heroes. Read the 10 deadly errors again, because sometimes we forget them. We always have to be safe out there, but these are special times for us.

BE SAFE and please remember; this too shall pass.

Pat Colligan
The 10 Deadly Errors

1. LACK OF CONCENTRATION: If you fail to keep your mind on the job while on patrol or carry home problems into the field, you start to make errors. It can cost you and your fellow officers their lives.

2. TOMBSTONE COURAGE: Just what it says, if time allows wait for backup. There are very few instances where you should try and make a dangerous apprehension unaided.

3. NOT ENOUGH REST: to do your job you must be alert. Lack of sleep or being sleepy can endanger yourself, the community and fellow officers.

4. TAKING A BAD POSITION: Never let anyone you are questioning or about to stop get in a better position than you are. THERE IS NO SUCH ANIMAL AS A ROUTINE STOP!!!

5. NOT HEEDING DANGER SIGNS: As a cop you will get to recognize "danger signs". Movements, strange cars, warnings that should alert you to watch your step and approach with caution. Know your beat and watch for what is out of place.

6. FAILURE TO WATCH THE HANDS OF A SUSPECT: Is he or she reaching for a weapon or getting to smack you? WHERE ELSE CAN A KILLER STRIKE FROM, BUT FROM THEIR HANDS!!!!

7. RELAXING TOO SOON: YES, the rut of false alarms are accidental or whatever. Still, observe the activity. NEVER take any call as routine or just another false alarm. It could be your ass on the line.

8. IMPROPER HANDCUFFING: Once you have made the arrest, handcuff the prisoner CORRECTLY! See that the hands that can kill you are safely secured.

9. NO SEARCH OR POOR SEARCH: There are too many places to hide a weapon that if you fail to search you are guilty of committing a crime against other officers that will have contact with your prisoner. Many people carry weapons and are able and ready to use them on you. Never assume that the next guy or the jailer will do a "GOOD" search.

10. DIRTY OF INOPERATIVE WEAPON: Is your sidearm clean? How about the bullets? Did you clean your weapon since the last range? Or have you even shot or practiced drawing your weapon recently? Can you hit your target in a combat situation? You must practice faithfully and religiously.

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NJ Cops Magazine

September 2015 Back Issues
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President's Message

Patrick Colligan, NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan, President How we can interpret the pension double-speak for the public

When we are talking about pension reform in New Jersey it is easy to get lost in political double-speak. Much of the media coverage, including a recent Star Ledger editorial and every stump speech delivered by Gov. Christie, suggests that without more employee concessions there will soon be no more pensions to save. But when you break down the pension system into its unique and independent pieces, a brighter picture becomes clear.

In order to see this picture, the public needs to know the whole story. The facts are this: the pension system for law enforcement officers and firefighters is healthy, structurally sound and, at the local level, being 100-percent funded by employers and employees alike. This is an important distinction because the facts don't fit so neatly into the governor's narrative of impending pension doom and massive tax hikes designed to scare the public and bamboozle the N.J. Legislature.

In many ways, the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) doesn't even belong in the larger discussion. In fact, the governor's own highly regarded Pension and Benefit Commission admitted that it never looked at PFRS when they doing its research. When looking at the PFRS system aside from the other pension funds, every number and actuary report shows a healthy system that needs continued payments and smart investments to grow. If we want to have an honest discussion, then let's truly lay all the cards on the table.

The state needs to stop playing games with the retirements of hardworking law enforcement officers and firefighters. For example, the sleight-of-hand trick the governor has been playing with PFRS employee contributions. The pension reform law of 2011 increased PFRS employee contributions from 8.5 percent to 10 percent, an increase most law enforcement officers were happy to pay to enhance their pension fund. But rather than keep this additional money in the system, where those hundreds of millions of dollars would have been
invested to date to further reduce pension costs, Gov. Christie chose to use our additional contributions to offset other spending in the state budget. He called it “property tax relief.”In law enforcement, when one person takes money promised by law for one reason and
uses it for something completely different, we call it fraud.

One of the most frequent responses to whether more pension reform is needed is that employee benefits are “unsustainable.” The message of sustainability for PFRS benefits is the product of years and years of misleading information by the governor and others who continue to play games with employee and employer contributions to the pension system, including giving supporters millions of dollars in advisory fees from pension monies.

That is not to say that the health of the pension system for teachers and other state employees doesn't face significant financial challenges without the actuarially required state pension payments. But those employees have zero control over whether the governor will do what he promised in 2011, and what we all know he won't do now that he is running for President. To suggest that any union should offer additional concessions for what they already gave up fits Albert Einstein's definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and
over again and expecting different results.

The NJ State PBA will continue to look for innovative ways to preserve and strengthen our pension fund for the future. We've been engaged in meaningful analysis with successful national public employee pension fund managers and state and local government leaders
looking for ways to keep PFRS secure. It's unfortunate that the governor has failed to step out of campaign mode and work honestly on these issues. “Telling it like it is” sounds more like “Telling it the way I wish it was” for those of us who have been dealing with him since 2010. I only hope that the press, and our legislators, will do a better job telling the state that the pension fund for law enforcement and firefighters is doing well and, with leadership in Trenton, will continue to grow.


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