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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.

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.”

In a private ceremony in his office Governor Murphy today signed into law legislation the State PBA has pursued for years to ban police departments from using tickets and citations as a way to evaluate as well as punish officers.  The new law removes tickets and citations issued by an officer from their “performance evaluations” and prevents discipline for officers using tickets as a justification. 

“For far too long unscrupulous local governments and police supervisors have tried to establish inappropriate ticket quotas,” State PBA President Pat Colligan said after the signing.  “Police officers are not revenue collectors as some towns have tried to make them and creating quotas means ordering an officer to target motorists or face punishment.  That ends today.”

The private bill signing was attended by State PBA leadership in recognition of the PBA’s initiation of the bill and its pursuit of passing it this session. 

“I want to thank our sponsors Senator Turner, Senator Addiego, Assemblyman Wirths, Assemblyman Taliaferro and all the co-sponsors for taking on this fight for us”, Colligan said. “This law will go far to further build trust between New Jersey police and the public.”

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.”

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.

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