Pull up a Chair

Barnegat Township Local 296 State Delegate Chris Ebert steps up to lead NJSPBA LPP committee and continue its unmatched protection for members

By Mitchell Krugel

Chris Ebert has taken over as chair of the NJSPBA Legal Protection Plan Committee and looks to continue the way the plan has protected law enforcement officers better than any other program in the state.

Walking around the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., in any given year, you might run into Chris Ebert, sporting his bagpiper’s kilt, ready to contribute to the soundtrack of remembrance. It’s just as likely to see Ebert, the Barnegat Local 296 State Delegate, manning a station at an event like the NJSPBA Cigar Gala, doing his part to supplement members’ and guests’ experiences.

Ebert has answered pretty much every call from the PBA since he became the Local 296 State Delegate. So when it came to selecting a new chair for the Legal Protection Plan committee, perhaps the most impactful committee in the entire PBA, Ebert was ready for this calling.

The need for a new chair came when Raritan Township Local 337 State Delegate Meg Hammond, the longtime LPP committee leader, retired in May. Having been an LPP committee member since 2013, Ebert had the right breadth of experience to step up.

“I’ve been on the committee for 10 years, so I pretty much know the ins and outs of it, and I was looking forward to taking over as chair,” Ebert declared. “We want to make it the best law enforcement legal protection plan in the country. And that’s why we keep coming up with new ways to add services without adding anything to the cost of the plan.”

Coming from a law enforcement family – his father was on with Jersey City for 27 years – and working in a union environment before deciding to become an officer have inspired Ebert to be part of the crew organizing or running nearly every big PBA event. In April 2018, he was selected to be a PBA executive board member and is now the association’s 8th vice president. In addition to being on the LPP committee, he serves as chair of the Valor Awards committee, as well as being a member of the PBA’s education, judiciary and PAC committees.

LPP is one of the resources that comes into play almost every day. So as Ebert takes over leadership of the committee, it is a chance to reiterate the value of the plan, one of the premium benefits that makes the NJ State PBA a one-of-a-kind law enforcement labor union.

The plan, of course, provides members with protection if they are the target of internal or criminal investigation, as well as if they have to face criminal or civil charges. That’s with the basic annual membership cost of $156. There’s also an unlimited plan for $100 more a year, which equates to 70 cents per day.

“In recent years, we added the death benefit to the plan, and we added more support if you are hit with a federal indictment,” Ebert commented. “We’re just always coming up with something new to add.”

Ebert also notes how providing a better plan than the FOP national legal protection continues to motivate the committee, with the guidance of Kevin Lyons, the PBA’s LPP coordinator, to come up with more improvement ideas.

“I think we’re doing pretty well against theirs since they’re a for-profit business that will cut you off,” Ebert added. “With our plan, we want to make sure that members get every bit of coverage that they deserve. So if a member is in the right and needs to be covered, then we’re going to make sure that’s going to happen.”

Much of the work of the LPP committee goes unnoticed because it helps resolve so many issues for members before they bubble to trouble. It is based on the foundational principle that if you think you’re going to face loss of time, rank or money, you should have an attorney.

And within its mission of always trying to do better for the members, the plan has made upgrades, like adding witness coverage. So if you’re a witness to something and you’re being called in to be questioned about it, you will have an attorney to cover you. Which prevents situations like going in as a witness, trying to protect a friend and being charged with something.

In his 10 years with the committee, Ebert has seen many examples of the plan allowing members to nip the problem in the bud as soon as possible. And how the plan is there to protect members within the scope of their duties taking a law enforcement action.

“It is bad enough with the politicians, the media, the dirtbags on the street and everybody against you. And then when you have an administration that is going after you, then that’s where we step in,” Ebert confirmed. “We want to protect members and make sure they have this shield. We take care of our people. That’s our goal.”