Presidents Message: Self-interests? Seriously, judge?

In his denial for a stay of the governor’s vaccine mandate executive order, Appellate Judge Clarkson S. Fisher Jr. wrote:

“In the final analysis, there are times when individual self-interests like those asserted by appellants must take a backseat to the responsibilities we all have toward each other.”

My apologies judge, but their “individual self-interests” have been placed on hold since March 2020. For nearly two years, while you served in the comfort and safety of your home on Zoom, these self-centered correctional police officers went to their jobs, in person, every day to keep the residents of our state safe.

Funny that you forget they went to work for 10 months before the first COVID vaccine was even administered. And to add insult to injury, when the state rolled out the vaccine eligibility, our correction officers weren’t even included in the first phase. Our members were dying long before any vaccine was available to them. Self-centered? I don’t think so.

One the day I write this, by midnight, we will begin to see an exodus of highly trained, dedicated (and apparently self-centered) correctional police officers leaving their facilities for the last time.

So instructed by an executive order that was released during a major decline in the Omicron variant.

Released while the governor was planning to end the student mask mandate.

Released while additional inmates were walking out the door early due to COVID.

Released while up to 15 state correctional police officers per pay period are resigning (before the mandate).

Released while the state is paying to advertise openings for corrections positions.

Released while the NJDOC commissioner certified that we are in “the most critical staffing shortage the department has ever had to face.”

I think you get my point by now.

And yes, I’m not lying. This New Jersey fiscal lunacy at its best. The state of New Jersey has purchased advertising time. For what? STATE CORRECTIONAL POLICE OFFICERS! I wish this was a joke. Unfortunately, it is not. But I do know where you can find 1,400 officers real fast.

I hate to sound like an infomercial, but wait, there’s more. In another bout of lunacy, we have a novel new idea from a state agency that is taking tremendous strides to make itself completely irrelevant. In a tone-deaf move, the NJ Civil Service Commission decided to change the $35 fee for the Law Enforcement Entry Exam (LEE) to $35 per employment application. They proudly touted in a recent meeting by noting, “One applicant spent almost $1,000.”

Well, congratulations civil service commission. Let’s undo any strides we made in minority recruiting, especially those in underserved communities.

This from an agency that still can’t even send an email to applicants. Want to reach civil service? Must do it by mail or fax. Fax? I think I remember those things.

Let me make a crazy prediction here: There will be a stunning decrease in applicants for sheriff’s and county and state corrections positions.

To our correctional police officers who left on that night: You walked the toughest beat in law enforcement. A beat many of us did not want, or frankly could not, do. We know it was not an easy tour and we sincerely appreciate your service and your incredible sacrifice. People like Judge Fisher and others may have forgotten, but we have not. Job well done!

And so, as I finish this message today, all I can do is shake my head.