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.
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.
“If an officer, who is waiting to finalize his or her retirement, is injured on the job, it only makes matters worse when they are then terminated because they can’t perform their job due to the injury,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the committee. “Our law enforcement officers deserve dignity and respect, and this legislation affords them the opportunity to retire with both.”
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.
“Officers are not only terminated, but they are also stripped of their health and pension benefits as a result of their incapacity due to an injury sustained on the job. It’s an inherently unfair practice that only serves to double-punish the victim,” said Senator Greenstein. “This legislation addresses the added insult to injury and allows our retiring law enforcement officers to complete their career with dignity.”
The bill would apply to both civil service and non-civil service jurisdictions.
It was approved today by the Senate with a vote of 37-0 and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.