TRENTON, NJ -- Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law on Thursday sponsored by Mercer County lawmakers Dan Benson and Wayne DeAngelo (both D-Hamilton) to make sure veteran police officers can stay on the job and not be forced to retire during critical times such as the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new law, 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. The law provides 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 last until the second month after the emergency ends.
"Having continuity during the pandemic between experienced officers and newer recruits is essential for maintaining the health and safety of our communities," said Benson. "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."
In addition, the measure allows members of the 160th Class of the New Jersey State Police Academy to be eligible to join SPRS on August 7, 2020, the class's original graduation date. The new anticipated graduation date is September 4.
Members of this class also will not be subject to the maximum statutory age requirement of 35 for appointment to the State Police. This change will assist any officer-in-training who would exceed the maximum age before graduation.
"The current Police Academy class has faced obstacles like none other before them in recent memory," said DeAngelo. "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."