Norcross/Whelan Bill To Help Out-Of-Work Law Enforcement Officers Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) and Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) to help get laid-off law enforcement officers back to work sooner and save hiring agencies training-related costs was unanimously approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Senate for a final vote.

The bill (S-1800) would allow county sheriff’s departments and state law enforcement agencies to hire laid-off officers without having to utilize Civil Service lists, provided the officer was in good standing as an employee at the time of the lay off. The appointing authority of County Correctional Facilities also would be authorized to hire officers who have been laid off by other county correctional facilities using the same process.

“As the economy rebounds, this bill will allow us to get law enforcement officers back to work sooner, while at the same time providing public agencies an opportunity to save taxpayer money by hiring officers who already have experience in the field,” said Senator Norcross. “From both a public safety and a fiscal perspective, this just makes sense.”

Under current law, county and municipal police forces are authorized to hire law enforcement officers laid off for economic reasons without utilizing any Civil Service lists. The intent of the bill, passed unanimously by the Assembly in February, is to extend to other agencies the ability to hire in this manner, including police departments within state colleges and universities. The New Jersey State Police is exempt from the legislation.

“Law enforcement officers sacrifice their safety for ours each day they’re on the job – the least we can do is help make the process of getting back to work a little easier for them,” said Senator Whelan. “Permitting additional agencies to hire without using Civil Service lists will ensure experienced, upstanding officers laid off through no fault of their own are given the leg-up they deserve.”

Senator Norcross also sponsored legislation (A-2031), co-sponsored by Senator Whelan and signed into law in July, permitting paid or part-time municipal fire departments to hire laid off firefighters without using any Civil Service lists provided, in part, that the termination occurred within 60 months prior to appointment with the new fire department. The law extended the time period from 36 months. It extended the period for which a department could hire a laid-off federal civilian firefighter without utilizing a civil service list from 40 to 60 months.

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