The Jersey City administration is suppressing the advancement of many police officers who have committed themselves to protecting our communities and residents even when they have a legal right to be promoted in a fair and equable way .
Statutes dictate that police officers have the right to take a test from the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (NJCSC) in order to get promoted through the department. Mayor/Gubernatorial candidate Steven Fulop is limiting how many police officers can apply to become lieutenant, increasing their stature within the department, and providing a better life financially to their families as Jersey City is no longer affordable.
The NJCSC has voted in favor of the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association (PSOA) three times yet our city government insists that it has the right to appoint directly who can be promoted to lieutenants. As per the state constitution since 1930, under article VII, section I, Paragraph II, “The role of NJCSC is to appoint and promote such political subdivisions as be provided by the law, shall be made according to merit and fitness to be ascertained.”
Basically, the Jersey City administration is illegally breaking state law by usurping the right of the NJCSC to examine, select, and qualify police officers to be promoted. Furthermore, there is a contractual agreement between the Fulop administration and PSOA from 2019, that states under article 40, section II: “a promotional list to the next highest rank will be maintained at all times.”
Jersey City has 14 fewer lieutenants than the maximum allowed (80) by city ordinance. Of the 66 police personnel now serving as lieutenants, 32 are eligible for retirement after 20 plus years of service. This will create additional vacancies and limit leadership roles within the department. The JCPD is currently using 14 sergeants as patrol supervisors acting as lieutenant and working countless overtime hours.
In March 2023, the Jersey City Police Department elected an independent slate of officers to lead the PSOA, which based its campaign on helping and supporting the Jersey City police superior officers equally where their rights and benefits are sheltered. This newly elected board is facing punishment for daring to voice its concerns and provide a choice to the officers’ union members who voted and elected them as their leaders instead of the board led by Andrew LaBruno’ slate supported by Mayor Fulop and his administration.
Why do our JC police officers, who are risking their lives on a daily basis to protect our residents and communities, have to combat bureaucracy by the city administration for an opportunity to test for promotions? More so why are qualified and honored sergeants constantly overlooked?
Currently, Mayor Fulop has twice failed to take control of the lieutenant promotional procedure from NJCSC and PSOA. The mayor is seeking to appeal the process in court (outside of the NJ CSC system) which should be deemed illegal.
Something highly concerning about the current legal proceedings for this case is that our city government very rarely provides comments about any sensitive issue affecting Jersey City. Mayor Fulop publicly said about this open case the following: “Importantly, the chair of the Civil Service Board who is the senior expert on these procedures in the state voted with the city last week in opposition to the other voting board members.”
Is the mayor going so far as to ask for political favors to get his will imposed on this case? Interesting, especially when at the beginning of the mayor’s political career he ran as an anti-nepotism candidate. It seems that political favoritism is Mayor Fulop’ modus operandi.
Mayor Fulop believes his authority as an elected civil servant grants him the power to be above the law and the constitution. He is known to censor people in social media that are critical of him or his administration. The PSOA has elected an independent board which does not bend to the mayor’s wishes and desires. We know that no one dares to fight and have their own voice in Jersey City because you might put a target on your back by Fulop’s administration.
Perhaps the fact that the administration’s failed pick for the PSOA board, who also the mayor of Dumont, New Jersey, would have been beneficial to Mayor Fulop’s statewide ambitions. His interests seem more focused on endorsements for his gubernatorial campaign and not on the local public safety matters. Regardless of the mayor’s personal political ambitions, the community needs to come out and support the PSOA and the city police officers to ensure they have a fair and transparent promotion process.