(TRENTON) – Police officers who are members of the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who reach the retirement age of 55 during a public emergency would have the option to delay their retirement for a short time under a bill that received final legislative approval on Monday, passing the Assembly 73-0 and the Senate 36-0.
The bill (A-3963) would provide for an officer’s retirement date to be extended if it falls during a public health emergency or state of emergency declared by the Governor. The extension would be in effect until the second month after the emergency ends. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson and Wayne DeAngelo.
“During these uncertain times, law enforcement needs to rely on experienced officers to guide them through challenging situations,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill will give veteran Troopers an opportunity to continue protecting and serving their communities as we grapple with the COVID-19 public health emergency, and enable them to impart their experience and training to the next generation of officers.”
“Having continuity during the pandemic between experienced officers and newer recruits is essential for maintaining the health and safety of our communities,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “By allowing officers to extend their retirement dates, we will ensure police forces maintain this continuity as New Jersey recovers from this public health emergency.”
Additionally, under the bill, members of the 160th Class of the New Jersey State Police Academy would be eligible to join SPRS on August 7th, 2020, the class’s original graduation date.
Members of this class would also not be subject to the maximum statutory age requirement of 35 for appointment to the State Police. This change would assist any officer-in-training who would exceed the maximum age before the new anticipated graduation date of September 4, 2020.
“The current Police Academy class has faced obstacles like none other before them in recent memory,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “They’ve worked diligently to complete virtual training and assist State Police with their COVID-19 response during April and May, and now, at long last, they are finishing in-person training. It’s only fair that we give these dedicated students flexibility as they work towards graduation and being appointed State Troopers.”
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.