Latest News and Announcements
In June of this year, the NJFOP initiated talks to extend eligibility for accidental disability and accidental death benefits to certain PFRS, SPRS, and PERS members who contract COVID-19 and test positive for SARS-CoV-2. Our many thanks go out to Assemblypersons Carol Murphy, Annette Chaparro and Raj Mukherji as well as Senators Linda Greenstein and Pat Diegnan for their hard work and commitment in getting this bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Phil Murphy signed this bill into law on Wednesday, July 1 making the effective date retroactive to March 9, 2020. This bill extends accidental disability and accidental death benefits to eligible law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), and State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who contract COVID-19 during the public health emergency in this State declared by the Governor in Executive Order No. 103 and as extended by the Governor. In order to qualify for accidental disability benefits, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the systems must sustain a permanent and total disability as a result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of regular or assigned duties. This bill provides that a permanent and total disability will be deemed to have occurred as a direct result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of the performance of regular or assigned duties if:
- the member contracts COVID-19 and tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the public health emergency;
- the member is permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19; and
- the member’s regular or assigned duties required the member to interact, and the member so interacted, with the public or to directly supervise other personnel so interacting with the public on any date during the public health emergency and within 14 calendar days prior to the appearance of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 that were confirmed in writing by a licensed health care provider on a form approved by the board of trustees and also confirmed by a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2.
A member who retired during the public health emergency may apply for a retirement allowance pursuant to this bill. New onset diseases and chronic psychological disease resulting from prior exposure to, and recovery from, COVID-19 will not be deemed a permanent and total disability resulting from COVID-19.
Brothers and Sisters, Last week AG Gurbir S. Grewal announced two directives without input of the FOP and other police organizations. Our State Lodge has objected to both directives and is urging the AG to rescind them and work collaboratively with police organizations to find sensible resolutions to these issues. Below are the contents of the letter I’ve sent AG Grewal on behalf of our membership. I will continue to update you as this issue unfolds.
Robert W. Fox
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal
Office of the Attorney General
Hughes Justice Center
PO Box 80
25 Market St
Trenton, NJ 08625-0080
Attorney General Grewal,
On behalf of myself and the 13,000 law enforcement officers represented by the New Jersey State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”), I write to express my deep concerns and disappointment with recently issued Law Enforcement Directive Nos. 2020-5 and 2020-6.
As you are keenly aware, the FOP has always served as a willing partner with your office, the State of New Jersey and the public to establish and implement best police practices, to foster positive community relations and trust, and to ensure the safety and security of both our officers and the people of New Jersey. Even when we may disagree on a given topic, the FOP has demonstrated its commitment to working with you to bridge any divide so as to ensure New Jerseyans receive the best police services in our Nation. It is because of this history that I was so disappointed that your office issued Directives 2020-5 and 2020-6 without any consultation with the FOP, or any of the other statewide professional law enforcement organizations.
The lack of consultation with the New Jersey’s law enforcement community – the men and women on the ground – is evident in these directives. Without getting into the potential legal infirmities associated with the implementation of these new guidelines, the Directives simply lack practical sense. By reducing the threshold for reportable events to five (5) days for any type of infraction (including uniform violations, auto accidents, or the occasional lateness) the Directives cast such a wide net that it is likely to render the disclosures meaningless, thus undermining the purported intent set forth in your Directives.
The State of New Jersey, the Office of the Attorney General, and the courts have historically recognized the strong public policy favoring the confidentiality of internal affairs files. Reporting procedures already in place in the existing guidelines, including those implemented as recently as December of 2019, appropriately balance the need for transparency with the confidentiality interests relating to internal affairs records. While these strong public policy interests have not changed, the new Directives completely ignore the critical balance that protects both the law enforcement community and the public. The concern, of course, is that by so drastically expanding the public disclosure of officers charged with discipline: causes wrongfully accused or officers to be unfairly tainted, perhaps even before there has been a final disposition from a court or other tribunal; encourages unwarranted complaints from those only seeking notoriety or targeting an officer for reasons other than wrongdoing; and subjects officers and their families to the possibility that they may be targets in their homes, communities, and schools.
The decision to permit the retroactive release of the identities of officers republishing old annual reports serves absolutely no legitimate purpose other than to harass and embarrass, officers and their families, including officers who may have since retired from law enforcement and some who have passed away.
To be absolutely clear, the FOP is more than willing to work with you on options regarding the disclosure of officers who were terminated or who are found guilty of violations such as excessive use of force or racially biased incidents. Our willingness to find sensible solutions in the past proves we do not intend to block common sense reforms. It is in that vein that I ask you to rescind these Directives, meet with the FOP and other police organizations on this important issue, and allow us to work with you to find sensible solutions, as we have done so many times before.
Robert W. Fox, President
The New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police joins other New Jersey Law Enforcement Organizations with deep concerns about the Attorney General’s new directive “Major Discipline Directive”he issued on June 15, 2020. The state lodge believes in the true transparency in the Law Enforcement Community with the public, but we do not believe this directive accomplishes that goal.During these unprecedented times with law enforcement and the public trust, I wonder why this directive was needed.We have in place the current “Internal Affairs Directive”that states:fines or suspensions of 10 days or more would be reported,which has now been changed to 5 days or more.I guess our law enforcement community has been doing such a great job in New Jersey that there was not enough information to report to the public. Releasing of names of officers does nothing more than cause additional stress for them and their families.
The cases involving the NJ State Police, which is one of the most respected Police Agencies in this country, to go back 20 years is a disgrace. I am sure,that there are true heroes of the state police that are honored on the walls of the Police Memorial in Washington DC, that gave their lives,will show up on this list. There will be names of deceased state police officers on the list too, which will disgrace their families left behind.I only wish that the Attorney General of this state would have reached out to our police organizations prior to this directive being issued,so we could have helped him draft a directive that was good for the citizens of this state and law enforcement.In closing, all the police organizations in this state will be working together to try to resolve this matter. (READ FULL LETTER HERE).
Robert W. Fox President NJFOP
The New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police joins other law enforcement professionals to denounce the actions of the Minneapolis police officer for his role in the death of Mr. George Floyd. The NJFOP strongly believes it is the responsibility of law enforcement to serve and protect the citizens of this country, not take a life with excessive force.
It is difficult for me to see any reason that would justify the amount of excessive force used in the arrest of Mr. Floyd. There is nothing that hurts a police officer more than the actions of a bad police officer. When something like this occurs, it taints the badge of all in the law enforcement community. Our brothers and sisters deserve better.
My message to our officers on the front lines in the midst of this civil unrest is to stay strong and keep the faith. We stand with you.
I would like to extend our condolences and prayers to the entire Floyd family and friends.