From time to time, we have to address the procedure for opening an NJ State PBA Legal Protection Plan claim to help members understand the process and why we have the system that we have.
The PBA was built around the concept of the Board of Delegates and State Delegates having the responsibility of not only representing their Local members to the state organization, but also of bringing information back to their members. The plan maintains the philosophy that, whenever possible, we work with the State Delegate to be consistent with the flow of information.
This is the main reason for the LPP claim form. It is not to approve or disapprove your claim. Only the administrator or the LPP Committee can do that, outside of an appeal. It is simply to make sure that your Local leadership is aware of circumstances in their Local and so they can assist a member if help is needed.
If you are summoned for an interview as a target or a witness or are served any kind of civil, criminal or administrative charges, you should contact your State Delegate immediately. Obviously, in critical incidents we want you to contact a lawyer first, so they can protect you and your rights.
I know that this is going to surprise many of you, but most of the IA personnel in your departments are good cops, trying to find out what the facts are. But there are some who routinely violate our members’ rights and would bask in the glory of turning them into Brady cops when they lie and violate a good cop’s rights.
Once you have spoken to your delegate, they (the State Delegate — not you) will fill out a claim form and provide a copy to you and your Local President.
You will then take the form to an approved attorney of your choice from the LPP Plan listed on the NJSPBA website and commence your defense. The process is very simple, and we keep it that way for a reason.
We also are consistent, no matter the member’s rank or position in the department or the Local. I have supervisors call on a regular basis and tell me that the State Delegate is their subordinate and that they don’t want to go to them. Our position is that within the ranks of the PBA, we are all brothers and sisters, period.