Legislation Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Nancy Pinkin and Jamel Holley sponsored to provide campus police officers with increased job security gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-1411) would afford college and university campus police officers the same employment protections as other police officers in the state. Under the bill, campus police officers may not be removed from their employment or position for political reasons or for any cause other than just cause, such as incapacity, misconduct or disobedience of rules and regulations established by the college or university police agency. Should just cause be established, a written complaint setting forth charges would be required prior to consideration for termination.
“Campus police officers often have to intervene in the same dangerous situations as other law enforcement officers, but they go through a less formal process when facing possible termination,” said Johnson (D-Bergen), a former Bergen County sheriff. “This legislation simply is about making sure that all officers are held to the same standards and go through the same processes.”
The legislation provides that any complaint against an officer must be in written form and must be filed in the office of the person in charge of the agency. A complaint must be served upon the officer charged and a hearing must be held at least 10 days after the complaint is served.
Any complaint charging a violation of the internal rules and regulations established for the conduct of a police agency shall be filed no later than 45 days after establishing the grounds for the complaint. If the complaint is not filed within this 45-day window, it must be dismissed and the officer cannot be fired, suspended, fined or reduced in rank for that violation.
“Similar to municipal police officers, campus police officers receive police academy training and are authorized to carry weapons and make arrests,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “If they’re doing the same work as other officers, they ought to receive the same employment protections as other officers.”
“Local police officers, State Police officers and troopers, county investigators and professional firefighters rightfully are afforded the right to certain employment protections, which reflects New Jersey’s respect and gratitude for their work,” said Holley (D-Union). “Our state’s laws also must reflect similar appreciation for its campus police.”
The measure, which gained Assembly approval 57-12-1, now awaits Senate consideration.