Now is the time for towns to realize why their officers are leaving and buck up

In some past NJ Cops Magazine articles, we have documented issues with working conditions and how they are prompting officers to leave their respective departments. We have witnessed throughout the state where officers are exiting to work in municipalities that have better working conditions and are generally more receptive to their law enforcement.

Lately, this has become an all-too-familiar issue. When I hear that officers are leaving their jobs for another town, the first question is, why would they do that? Unfortunately, we all know why.

The towns that the officers are leaving are doing a disservice to their residents, taxpayers and visitors because they are failing to provide those departments with the necessary tools to be effective law enforcement agencies. Whether it’s not budgeting for vehicles and proper equipment to taking the hard line in contract negotiations, those towns are basically saying that they are defunding the police without saying they’re defunding the police.

In some towns, working conditions are unacceptable. In some agencies where female officers are employed, those agencies do not provide a separate locker room facilities from their male colleagues. The female officers are forced to change in a common area or a small bathroom. I know of one agency where the weight/gym equipment is in the middle of the locker room and the lockers surrounding the equipment are against the walls. How can one expect to change into and out of their uniforms while you have a few officers working out in the room? There just is not enough room to do both, and officers are having to hang their uniforms on the equipment that is in use by the members working out.

In my opinion, this is setting a bad example by the so-called leadership in these municipalities. What the town’s administrators are saying is that they don’t care about your working conditions and, in some cases, they don’t want to pay the officers when it comes time to negotiate a new contract.

What this also says is that they don’t care about the little things that make officers mentally and physically prepared for their shifts. With the madness that we have seen from the anti-police groups during the past several years, I never thought that it would lead to this lack-of-concern behavior toward the officers who serve faithfully every day that I have from some municipalities here in New Jersey. Maybe I am too naïve.

I think that municipalities are ignoring problems that they really have solutions for. Whether it’s during the contract negotiation process with the PBA Local or just providing a proper changing/locker room facility for the officers, the towns can resolve these issues by injecting some leadership and cooperation within the departments. The towns should empower the officers instead of restraining them.

Now, I get it. Some of the municipal leaders say that they can’t do this or can’t do that regarding improving working conditions and compensation. I think what it really comes down to is the communication and cooperation between the Locals and the governing body in the towns. I believe that the towns where we have seen the exodus of fully trained officers to better pay, better training and better-equipped departments should take a look at the issues they caused and look to resolve those issues.

If they don’t, maybe the residents and voters will do something about it in November.