Forgotten history…let’s not forget

President’s Message

I was given an old copy of The Police News of N.J. a few months ago. Maybe not so old to all of you, it was an issue from December 1982. It was the “Official Publication of the N.J. State PBA” long before NJ Cops Magazine became the newest version of our publication. Some interesting reading there.

I’ll start with “The Legal Column.” It was written by our attorney at the time, James R. Zazzali. We must have given him some exceptional experience because James went on to become the New Jersey Attorney General and eventually chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

What really struck me were multiple stories of defeats by voters to allow their police departments to join the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Yes, pretty recent history of entire departments that were NOT in the PFRS, but the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) at the time.

Many of you may not be aware, that our town had to have a referendum vote to let you even join the PFRS! Voter defeats covered in just that December issue included Egg Harbor (1,974 to 1,518), Stratford (2,317 to 557) and Lumberton (722 to 456). My own agency struggled with these referendums in those years as many others did, and I personally know a Bridgewater officer who resigned after the second defeat at the hands of the voters. There were very few wins prior to the legislation being introduced to allow joining the PFRS.

I know a few of you think that the “PBA doesn’t do anything.” But if it wasn’t for the tenacity of member Randall “Randy” L. Hackett and the State PBA, many of us would still be in PERS if the “Randy Hackett Bill” wasn’t passed! It was not an easy bill to move at the time from what I hear, but the strength of the PBA and the relationship with the legislature and governor thankfully got it across the finish line.

In other news from 1982…

  • Someone planted a bomb under the Waterford police chief’s car while it was in his driveway. Chief Joseph Palladino heard the explosion at 12:15 a.m. The results of the investigation weren’t covered in the article.
  • Metuchen Police Department had almost 300 applicants apply for one opening. Officials felt it apparently illustrated the unemployment issues in New Jersey at the time and there was an extensive article about new legislation requiring goggles for moped riders

The rest of the stories, much like our PBA state meetings, remain the same. New officers hired, honors for acts of heroism, new grants and pension news. So the answer is yes: The more things change, the more they stay the same!