NJ Cops Question Christie’s Motives With ‘Law Enforcement Day’
NJ Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Culligan says "Law Enforcement Day," declared by Gov. Chris Christie for Thursday, is nothing more than a political ploy and accuses the governor of not keeping his word to police about their pensions.
During an appearance Monday in Camden, Christie praised the Camden County Police Department for reducing violent crime and "making a positive difference in the City of Camden."
He described a "chill wind" toward law enforcement across the country "where officers do not feel as appreciated or as safe as they need to." To that end, Christie declared the day of recognition "to make sure that, here in New Jersey, where we’ve seen crime go down 20 percent in the last three years, along with prison population going down 10 percent at the same time, that we have a moment in our state where we say 'thank you' to all of you."
Culligan, however, sees a different reason for the declaration.
"The reality is that our officers deserve respect and appreciation every day, and not just when Chris Christie is polling within the margin of error and grasping at anything that might possibly give him a boost on our backs," wrote Culligan in a statement. “There are some very simple ways for Gov. Christie to truly show that appreciation."
He blamed Christie's policies for causing "thousands of officers" to retire, for "hundreds of officers being laid off," and for leaving "thousands of officers in danger in understaffed and underfunded departments."
Culligan also wants the governor to "meet his obligation to fully fund the pension system that our members haven’t missed making any of their own payments into."
A budget Christie signed over the summer slashed pension payments to about a third of what actuaries require to keep the fund solvent. A state pension commission earlier this year proposed a plan to save the state billions in retirement and healthcare costs by reducing benefits for many public workers.
"We would appreciate the Governor taking (the Police and Fireman's Retirement System) off of his Road Map" and honoring the provisions of contracts negotiated in good faith," Culligan said.
Christie also issued an executive order for flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.