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News

Assembly Bill 5864 - Body Worn Cameras

A Bill was introduced yesterday to permit officers to review body worn cameras.
 
Legislation was introduced yesterday, Assembly Bill 5864, that will eliminate the prohibition on officers being able to review their body worn cameras (BWC) while writing their initial reports. We look forward to the Senate Bill very soon.
 
The prohibition on reviewing BWC images for report writing has been a concern for the State PBA since it became a part of Attorney General policy a few years ago.  And during the consideration of the bill to mandate BWC use by police the State PBA publicly lobbied to permit officers to review camera footage.  Unfortunately, the current restriction on reviewing camera footage presents significant concerns for law enforcement officers in writing clear and detailed reports.
 
Fortunately, the bill has been fast trackedand is already scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Homeland Security Committee on June 14th.  The State PBA will strongly support it.
 
We commend Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Newark), a State PBA member and Essex County Sheriff’s Officer, who recognized the serious implications of preventing an officer from reviewing their BWC for report writing and requested the bill be drafted soon after the BWC mandate took effect.  State PBA President Colligan, Executive Vice President Kovar and Director of Government Affairs Nixon met with the Assemblywoman at the State PBA office to discuss the bill and other pressing matters facing law enforcement.  The State PBA is grateful for her leadership on this issue and for being a thoughtful voice for law enforcement as a member of the Legislature. 

State PBA President Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on AG Discipline Releases

New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today released the following statement based on the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s decision on Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directives to release internal affairs and personnel records going back decades. As the chief law enforcement officer in our state, the Attorney General’s directives overturn long-standing protections afforded to law enforcement by statute and regulation.

“The State Supreme Court’s decision is both frustrating and disappointing. The NJSPBA does not and will not protect bad officers who violate the public trust and, yet, the 99.9% of good men and women serving in law enforcement continue to find themselves under attack. We are pleased that the court recognized that many officers only resolved disciplinary actions because they received specific promises of confidentiality which they relied upon, and that they are entitled to a hearing before release of any information regarding events that may have occurred decades ago.  We continue to be disappointed in the Attorney General's ongoing refusal to meet with us to discuss fairness within police reform as well as his continuing attacks on law enforcement.”

UPDATED INFORMATION ON 20 & OUT RETIREMENT

This letter from the Chair of the PFRSNJ Board of Trustees is being sent this morning to the Certifying Officers of all PFRS locations. This letter will answer many of the questions that have been asked.

View Additional Information Here

STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ORGANIZATIONS ON THE VERDICTS IN THE CRIMINAL TRIAL OF POLICE OFFICER DEREK CHAUVIN

Despite all the claims to the contrary, the criminal justice system in the United States works, even when the person accused of a crime is a police officer.  The trial and unanimous conviction on all counts of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minnesota conclusively demonstrates that officers can be, and in fact are, held to the same standards of justice as all other citizens in our nation, as they should be.  The facts of the case surrounding the murder of George Floyd present a horrific tragedy on so many different levels.  At the most basic, a man lost his life needlessly at the hands of an officer.  At the same time, the assertions by so many who wish to demonize all police officers because of the actions of one officer have been shown to be hollow.

Due process rights do not prevent the investigation, charging, trial, and conviction of a police officer.  Neither does qualified immunity.  Neither do police unions, associations, or legal defense plans.

Police departments, unions, associations, prosecutors, and defense attorneys all have their proper role to play, and all citizens, including officers who are accused of a crime, are entitled to their day in court and to have an impartial judge and jury weigh the evidence against them.  They are entitled to have their side of the issue heard and considered.  And all of us must respect the decisions of the court system when these fundamental rules of due process are applied.

We, the men and women of this Association, serve the American criminal justice system, sometimes at the cost of our very lives.  We respect the verdict of the justice system in this case, and we continue to stand for the proposition that respecting the fundamental Constitutional rights of all persons accused of committing an offense, even when that person is a police officer, is no obstacle to the attaining of justice.  In fact, it is the very foundation upon which justice can be obtained.

The National Association of Police Organizations, founded in 1978, represents more than 241,000 sworn, rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the United States.

Governor will sign 20 & Out Law Today

Governor Murphy’s office has advised us that he will today sign legislation proposed by the State PBA to reinstate the 20 and Out retirement benefit for PFRS members. The State PBA has been actively pushing the Legislature to restore 20 and Out after it was gutted by the Christie Administration. The State PBA, who drafted the bill and selected the sponsors, appreciate the support of the Governor to return fairness to our members retirement options.

We are also grateful to the bills prime sponsors - Senator Gopal, Senator Lagana, Assemblyman DeAngelo, Assemblyman Dancer and Assemblywoman Chaparro - as well as Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin who prioritized moving the bill at our request.

The legislation will reestablish 20 and Out as a retirement option for PFRS members for the next 2 years. Members who qualify during that time period will receive a pension of 50% of their final salary but with no health benefits. The 2 year window will allow the State PBA, PFRS Board and legislative leaders to study the impact of the retirement benefit on the funded level of the pension system.

At a time when law enforcement has become more hazardous, more stressful and more unappreciated as ever before, this retirement option will give a level of peace of mind to our members who have been “burned out” by the job. The State PBA will continue to prioritize protecting and strengthening the pension and benefit rights available to the law enforcement community in New Jersey and today’s bill signing is just another example of that.

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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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