Currently, police officers at independent higher education institutions do not receive civil immunity from damages when acting in good faith to perform their duties and enforce the law. Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson and Roy Freiman, recognizing the critical and equal role of these police officers, have sponsored legislation extending this civil immunity. The bill advanced in a 75-0 vote by the full Assembly Thursday.
The bill (A-4553) would not only grant civil immunity to police officers at independent academic institutions, but would also extend civil immunity to the independent institutions themselves. Immunity from civil liability, however, would not extend in excess to that currently afforded to all other appointed law enforcement officers.
“Police officers employed at independent academic institutions are, without question, deserving of the same protection from civil liability as all other police officers employed in New Jersey,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “And this bill would do just that.”
As reported by the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report, only 0.19 percent of the 36,290 full-time police officers in the state are not afforded civil immunity from liability for damages that arise when performing their duty.
“All police officers deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, regardless of whether they are employed by an independent academic institution, or by a city or public academic institution,” said Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “These brave men and women put their lives on the line every time they show up to work, and they deserve the same treatment as other police officers.”
The bill now goes to the Senate President for further consideration.