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News

NJ Supreme Court Denies NJSPBA's Request to Stay the Order of Appellate Division Upholding Gov Murphy's Vaccine Mandate

Today the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a 5-2 decision denying the NJ State PBA’s request to stay the order of the Appellate Division that upheld Governor Murphy’s vaccination mandate that applies to all State and County Correctional Police Officers. Despite two justices voting in favor of granting our request for a stay, we recognize that the Court has spoken.

The State PBA along with our 11,000 members that are affected by this mandate are disappointed that we were unsuccessful in this challenge. We are currently reviewing this decision with legal counsel to ensure that our members have a firm understanding of the decision and can undertake any individual appellate rights that they may have available to them.

State PBA Statement on Court Vaccine Mandate Decision

The New Jersey Superior Court this morning dismissed the State PBA lawsuit challenging Governor Murphy’s mandate that correctional police officers receive the Covid vaccine or face termination.

We are obviously extremely disappointed with the Court’s decision to uphold the vaccine mandate for correctional police officers.  This is not only a loss for these officers to make their own medical decisions, but it is going to have damaging public safety consequences should layoffs result from it.  Testing and masking were not an unreasonable approach to limit the spread of a virus that seems to be retreating.  In fact, in New Jersey and all around the world Covid restrictions are being lifted.  It makes no sense for New Jersey to double down on one set of employees while removing restrictions for countless others.

Firing correctional police officers for not getting the vaccine is a disaster for public safety.  Staffing in corrections is already a challenge and terminations for vaccine violations is going to lead to massive gaps in safety at our jails.  This is most certainly going to lead to more attacks on the remaining officers, who will be overworked with forced overtime.  We therefore fail to understand the value of risking public safety in exchange for a vaccine that simply is not a 100% defense against a pandemic that experts say is moving toward its conclusion.

We are grateful to Frank Crivelli, Esq. for his leadership in taking on this case and we know he is examining the decision to determine what future action is possible to address it.

Governor Signs Two Major PBA Priority Bills into Law

Governor Murphy signed two bills of great importance to the State PBA today prior to the end of his first term in office.  The State PBA had initiated the drafting and quick movement of the bills to address two serious and pressing needs for PBA members across the State.  These bills close out a highly successful legislative session for State PBA initiated bills to protect and enhance the law enforcement profession in New Jersey.

First, in order to address a law and AG policy that prohibited an officer from reviewing their Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage when writing their initial reports, the State PBA proposed Assembly Bill 5864 to correct the policy.  The bill signed by the Governor today expressly permits an officer to review their BWC when writing initial reports except in certain matters relating to the use of a firearm, death, violation of the excessive use of force policy or other similar serious matters.  

The law will ensure accuracy in countless police reports and assist officers to properly record a situation.  The State PBA is grateful to the bill sponsor and State PBA member, Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, for her leadership in pushing the bill and to Governor Murphy for working with the State PBA on it.

Second, in order to address the depletion of public safety spending on officer salary and equipment in Atlantic City since the State takeover of the city, the State PBA worked closely with Senate President Steve Sweeney and the State FMBA on a bill to establish a $2 room fee on every casino hotel guest room that will be set aside in a special fund for use only for officer salary, training, retention and equipment.  

Senate Bill 4311 will raise millions per year that will restore Department funding and officer morale to the Atlantic City Police Department.  The bill will assist in retaining officers in the Department and provide much needed finances to restore officer salary that was cut before and after the State takeover six years ago.  The State PBA is truly grateful to Senator Sweeney for immediately saying yes when asked to sponsor this bill and, along with Speaker Coughlin, for making it a lame duck priority.  We applaud Governor Murphy for working with us to develop additional language to ensure that the money is secured and its spending prioritized to benefit the Officers and the City.

NAPO Update: Draft Executive Order on Police Reform

Dear NAPO members,

NAPO has learned and has obtained a copy of a draft Presidential Executive Order on police reform that is being circulated.  The draft Order would implement much of Senator Booker’s police reform legislative proposal that we fought so hard to stop last year, and which was rejected by Congress.  The new proposed Executive Order cannot do away with qualified immunity or expand Section 242 of U.S. Title 18 (criminal prosecution of officers for civil rights violations) as it is an Executive Order, not a law, but  it does recommend that Congress make significant changes to those long-standing officer protections. A full summary of the Executive Order can be found attached.  It is important to shine a light on this draft Order as it is a bad proposal that does nothing to safeguard officers’ rights or safety and we urge that it should not be issued.   Please share this information with your membership and urge them to make your and their objections known via Social Media (@POTUS, @WhiteHouse) or mail at the addresses below:

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Ambassador Susan E. Rice
Director
Domestic Policy Council
Room 469
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20502

The draft order can be viewed here.  Please note that the draft Order has not been shared with us, despite our repeated requests to the Administration.  These screen shots have been uploaded, probably by a concerned federal employee.

We will continue to update you on the status of this draft and any Executive Order that threatens to harm law enforcement.

View Draft Order Highlights Here

NJSPBA PRESIDENT COLLIGAN IMPLORES TRENTON COUNCIL PRESIDENT TO PRIORITIZE COMMUNITY SAFETY

WOODBRIDGE - New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today called on Trenton Council President Kathy McBride to allow a vote to take place on the resolution she recently tabled allocating $4 million in coronavirus relief funds for new radio equipment for the city’s first responders. 

McBride’s decision to pull the resolution without explanation in advance of Tuesday’s council meeting means Trenton’s police and first responders will soon have no means of communication to coordinate in the event of an emergency and can only result in putting city residents in peril. 

“Council President McBride appears to be prioritizing anything but the people she is supposed to represent in refusing to allow this resolution to come to a vote,” said Colligan.  “It is imperative that Trenton police and first responders have the means to effectively communicate and coordinate in the event of an incident, and the resources are available to achieve the commonsense solution of providing those services.  There is only one outcome for residents if this misguided decision to table Tuesday’s resolution is allowed to move forward, and it would simply defy all reason to knowingly put city residents in danger.”

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President's Message

Patrick Colligan, NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan, President

If they can do it to us…

This year has certainly been one for the ages. A global pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, the most divisive presidential election in our history, the murder of George Floyd, an asteroid that might hit be-fore election day and – because we haven’t had quite enough yet – murder hornets. I can hardly wait for November and December!

Needless to say, a few of these issues have had a profound effect on us in New Jersey. Twelve New Jersey officers lost their lives to COVID-19. Nine of them were PBA members. Some 120 officers throughout the country succumbed to the horrible disease, and tens of thousands of our brother and sister officers were profoundly affected. Many will never return to work.

As bad as we thought COVID was, May 25 was a day that changed policing forever. Some changes certainly will be for the better. Some will be downright dangerous, not only for the women and men who choose to do this job, but also for the citizens we’ve sworn to protect and serve.

So let’s fast forward to the federal Justice in Policing Act. In the rush to “do some-thing,” Congress drafted a really bad bill. The group that enjoys absolute immunity wants to take away our qualified immunity. I hope the “qualified” sufficiently describes our immunity. Yes, you are correct. We have to qualify for the immunity from lawsuits filed for damages resulting our mistakes. If you chose to act in a way that shocks the conscience or is so outside the norms of normal police work, you’re on your own. (And frankly, you should be). We make mistakes, no doubt about it. We aren’t Walmart greeters. We are in a dangerous and often ugly business. But many forget about that.

Some members of our New Jersey congressional delegation chose to sign onto that bill. One of them was even a co-sponsor. We’ve enjoyed some very close relationships and friendships with our delegation over the years. I hope I don’t have to tell you we were on the phone immediately after that bill came up. Marc, Rob and I were on some very long calls telling representatives exactly what that would do to our members and the very future of recruiting qualified candidates. A severe recruiting problem already exists.

There was no ambiguity in our conversations whatsoever. Removing qualified immunity was an absolute line in the sand. Of course, they were free to support the bill, but not without consequences.

I guess more than one of these elected officials thought we were bluffing. As they know by now, we weren’t. We have either walked away from our support or backed another congressional candidate. Yes, not without repercussions, but I live by a pretty simple rule in my life: Win, lose or draw, the day I can’t look myself in the mirror, I’ll walk away from this position.

Their unanimous answer of “it’s not passing anyway” was a shallow, feeble excuse. Depending on this election, that bill will probably be back and the “it’s not passing anyway” excuse won’t be such a shallow answer anymore.

So the delegation says, “If they do it to us, they can do it to anybody.” Not so quick folks. Maybe you weren’t listening to us on those calls. It was a line in the sand and unlike some of you, I mean what I say. The difference is, I can still proudly look at myself in a mirror today.

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