MARCH 2016 NJ STATE FOP LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
On January 12, 2016 the 2014-2015 New Jersey Legislative Session ended and the new 2016-2017 Legislative Session commenced. During the 2014-2015 Legislative Session the FOP succeeded in having several new laws it initiated and supported signed into law. They are:
*** P.L. 2015, c. 52 (FOP INITIATIVE) Requires police departments of higher educational institutions to adopt Attorney General guidelines on internal affairs policies and procedures.
*** P.L. 2015, c. 100 Upgrades simple assault to aggravated assault if committed against certain law enforcement officers and employees because of job status.
*** P.L. 2015, c. 213 Permits correctional facilities to utilize body imaging scanning equipment.
*** P.L. 2015, c.226 (FOP INITIATIVE) Prohibits posting, publishing on the internet, or disclosing certain information regarding law enforcement officers.
***P.L. 2015, c. 227 Establishes NJ State Department of Transportation roadside memorial program for fallen police officers.
***P.L. 2015, c. 258 Expands the Police Training Commission membership to include representatives from National Organization of Black Law Enforcement.
SCR-184/ACR-109 Proposes constitutional amendment to require payments by the State to the State administered retirement systems and establish in New jersey’s Constitution the right of public employees to pension benefits; provides for the enforcement of funding obligations and benefit rights (Passed and needs to pass once more in the Legislature to be on the election ballot).
In addition, several key pieces of legislation supported by the FOP were unfortunately vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. They are:
*** S-264/A-1347 ”Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First responders Protection Act”; concerns workers’ compensation for public safety workers (this was the second time Governor Christie vetoed the bill).
***S-929/A-1908 Concerns cost of living adjustments for certain workers’ compensation supplemental benefits.
***S-1593/A-2048 Establishes “Police Officer, Firefighter, Public School Teacher, Corrections Officer and Sanitation Worker Home Buyer Assistance Act; appropriates $5 million.
***S-3201/A-1695 Requires interior light of motor vehicle be turned on when stopped by law enforcement under certain circumstances.
One piece of legislation the FOP strongly opposed and fought against was vetoed by Governor Christie, A-4265/S-2783. It would have permitted municipal, county and regional police and fire forces to establish five-year residency requirements for police officers and firefighters.
In the new 2016 – 2017 legislative Session the FOP is monitoring and supporting the following legislation:
*** A-447 Permits retired law enforcement officers who are authorized by the New Jersey Superintendent of State Police to carry a handgun to possess hollow nosed ammunition.
*** A-807/S-1650 Establishes a compensation program for State, County and Juvenile Corrections Officers and Parole officers injured while performing official duties.
*** A-1244/S-86 Establishes Class Three Special law Enforcement officers to provide security in public and non-public schools.
*** A-1245/S-1703 Establishes criminal penalties for unlawful control over weapons of any law enforcement officer and interference with equipment or duties of law enforcement officers and emergency services personnel.
*** A-1329/S-240 Protects home addresses of law enforcement officers from being released by government entities.
*** A1342/S-152 Prohibits public possession of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor.
*** A-1411 (FOP INITIATIVE) Prohibits that campus police officers may not be removed from their employment or position for political reasons or for any cause other than just cause.
*** A-1708/S-1686 Expands the crime of bias intimidation to include crimes and offenses committed against law enforcement officers. In January of 2015, the National FOP wrote to the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States to request that members of the law enforcement community be added as a protected class in the federal hate crime law, due to the targeted nature of the violence. This bill would provide the same protection to members of the law enforcement community in the State of New Jersey by expanding the definition of bias intimidation to include crimes committed with the purpose to intimidate law enforcement officers.
*** A-2126/S-1105 Prohibits law enforcement agencies from considering the number of arrests made and citations issued when evaluating a police officers’ professional performance.
*** A-2674 Establishes an emergency “Blue Alert System” for the rapid dissemination of information in order to facilitate the apprehension of persons suspected of killing or seriously injuring law enforcement officers and to aid in the location of missing law enforcement officers.
*** A-2690/S-1944 (FOP INITIATIVE) Expands the list of retired law enforcement officers who are eligible to receive a permit to carry a handgun. Under current law, certain retired law enforcement officers may annually apply for a permit to carry a handgun, until those officers reach age 75, at which time they are no longer eligible. The permit allows a retired law enforcement officer to carry a handgun at all times. This bill expands the list of retired law enforcement officers eligible to receive a handgun permit to include: State Park police officers; special agents of the New Jersey Division of Taxation; Human Services police officers; New Jersey Transit police officers; campus police officers and university police officers employed by institutions of higher education; State Conservation officers; and Palisades Interstate police officers.
In addition, A-3529/S-1762, as a stand alone bill, includes only campus police officers in the list of retired law enforcement officers eligible for a handgun carry permit.
*** A-3008 (FOP INITIATIVE) Known as the “Santiago/Ramos/Liu Police protection Act,” requires any law enforcement agency in New Jersey purchasing and using a new motor vehicle to have tinted windows which permit only the minimum light transmittance as may be required pursuant to federal law, rule or regulation. The bill applies only to vehicles clearly and conspicuously marked as those used for law enforcement purposes. The window tinting requirement would apply only to law enforcement vehicles purchased on or after the first day of the fourth month next following the date of the bill’s enactment. The title of the bill honors Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago and New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, all of whom were murdered in 2014.
*** A-3087 Known as the “Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act,” it concerns added workers’ compensation protection for public safety workers.
*** A-3173/S-1528 Provides a first responder, who has a family member who was also a first responder for the same entity, and who was killed in the line of duty, with up to 52 weeks of paid family leave to be taken within 24 months of the incident. Family leave insurance benefits will provide compensation equal to 66 2/3% of the individual’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $615 (for calendar year 2016) per week.
*** A-3234 Provides law enforcement officers the option to obtain a permit or firearm identification card from the municipality where they are employed.
*** S-879 Prohibits a law enforcement officer from being discharged from employment based upon a determination that the officer is physically incapacitated for the performance of his or her duty under circumstances, This provision would apply only when a law enforcement has filed an application for retirement with the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, the State Police retirement System or the Public Employees” retirement System, and the officer has sick leave or workers’ compensation time available or the law enforcement agency has the ability to assign the officer to light duty pending retirement. The provisions of this bill would apply to both civil service and non-civil service jurisdictions.
*** S-1540 Encourages the wearing of blue to honor law enforcement officers on Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15th in New Jersey) in honor of the men and women of the law enforcement community.