Temporary Injunction On
Major Discipline Releases
New Jersey State PBA, PBA Local 1 and PBA SOA Local 1
PERC Temporary Injunction on Major Discipline Releases
“The State PBA, Paterson Police PBA Local 1 and Paterson PBA SOA Local 1 are pleased that the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission today has ordered a halt to the release of names of active and retired police officers in Paterson who have received “major discipline” over the past 20 years. While the public has been led to believe that issues involving “major discipline” are serious violations of the public trust the reality is that the term is misleading. The State PBA and PBA Local 1 believe that releasing this information serves no public safety benefit and puts the lives, livelihoods and welfare of their members and families at undue risk.
Disciplinary actions for more than 5 days can be handed out for uniform violations, loss of equipment or violations of departmental rules that have nothing to do with keeping bad cops off the streets. These old files also fail to take into consideration officers who have used their discipline as an opportunity to learn and improve themselves as professionals. Releasing 20 years of misleading data about officers who may have long ago retired or active officers with a stellar record since their discipline serves only to smear the officers and drive a wedge between the police and the public.
The Public Employment Relations Commission Order is not about protecting bad cops. No one, including us, wants a bad cop in our ranks. But releasing information from an officer’s personnel file should involve a measured approach rather than a blanket document dump that does not tell a complete story about an officer or his or her ability to serve the public honorably. Paterson’s desire to release this information puts respected active and retired police officers and members of their family at risk of physical, mental or emotional abuse by persons who believe that all police officers and their families should be subjected to public shaming for the indefensible actions of a few bad cops.”
NJ State PBA
June 25, 2020
Joint Statement New Jersey Law Enforcement Unions
Ten days ago, and with less than one hours’ notice, the Unions representing Law Enforcement Officers across New Jersey were notified by the Attorney General of his intent to unilaterally force the publication of all Officers’ names who are suspended for more than five days, demoted, or terminated as the result of confidential internal investigations. In addition, the Attorney General has ordered the New Jersey State Police to release the names of all Troopers involved in this type of discipline in the last twenty years by July 15, and is urging other law enforcement agencies to do the same.
Over the past ten days, our Unions made multiple attempts to bring the Attorney General to the table to negotiate a sensible, responsible, and mutually agreeable policy. We publicly and privately expressed a willingness to strike a balance with the Attorney General which satisfies his call for transparency in truly egregious situations but does not expose hundreds of Officers with far less serious violations. Our intentions were clear that we were not seeking to protect “bad cops” but that we needed a seat at the table.
Yesterday, our calls to be heard culminated in a meeting with the Attorney General to express our many concerns. Troublingly, the meeting began with the Attorney General reading, word-for-word, a legal disclaimer which made it explicitly clear the meeting was not a negotiation. For nearly two hours we discussed many extremely problematic issues with his directives.
Some of our numerous concerns include the physical safety and mental well-being of our members and their families, the potential to easily identify other involved parties, and the existence of strict confidentiality in internal investigations and voluntary disciplinary agreements. Also, many identities slated for release will include deceased law enforcement officers, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and whose names are etched on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. At the conclusion of our meeting, we were simply told by the Attorney General that his office would be in touch.
Unfortunately, the firm deadline of July 15 for the publication of names coupled with the Attorney General’s outright denial to negotiate in good faith has left us with no other option than to file litigation and seek temporary restraints until our arguments are heard in court.
State Troopers and Police Officers throughout New Jersey serve with great honor and distinction and we are proud of the commitment our members make to the citizens of this great state. They deserve to be respected and treated with fair and reasonable policies which address current issues while helping our profession grow closer to the communities we care for, not further apart. We are always open to progress that actually makes New Jersey a better place for all families to live, work, and thrive – including our own.