TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Linda R. Greenstein that would prohibit the termination of a law enforcement officer pending retirement if the officer is physically unable to perform his or her duty as a result of an injury sustained on the job was approved today by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Under the bill, S-879, a State, county or municipal law enforcement officer who has been injured in the line of duty cannot be discharged from employment as a result of a determination that the officer is physically incapacitated from performing his or her usual duties and of any other available duty in the department due to the injuries. This would only apply when the officer 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 workmen’s compensation time available.
“It adds insult to injury to terminate officers for their lack of ability to perform their duties following injuries sustained on the job, especially while they have a pending application for retirement,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the committee. “This bill would allow these law enforcement officers to be assigned light duty, if available, until they retire.”
Current regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act allow for individuals injured while on duty to be terminated if they cannot perform current duties and other assignments are not available.
Under the bill, the employer of the law enforcement officer would also be required to maintain health insurance for the officer at the same level that coverage was provided prior to the injury, pending retirement.
“This legislation is aimed at addressing the unfortunate circumstance where hardworking officers who have dedicated their lives to the service of others find themselves, as they approach retirement, physically incapacitated to continue working and are then terminated and lose their health and pension benefits as a result of those injuries,” added Senator Greenstein. “It’s simply not right, and we must do more to protect those who serve to protect others.”
The bill would apply to both civil service and non-civil service jurisdictions.
It was approved today by the committee with a vote of 4-0 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.