In a letter dated December 15, 2008, Wendy Jamison, Secretary for the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS), explained that PFRS has recently adopted amendments to the New Jersey Administrative Code that addresses training requirements for Police Officers and Firefighters and the potential affect of the same to pension eligibility for some members of PFRS.
In her letter, Ms. Jamison explained that in order for a member of PFRS to meet the eligibility criteria for the pension system, he or she must work in a title that meets the definition of "police officer" or "firefighter" and meet specific minimal training requirements. The training requirements for eligibility in PFRS is that each member of the retirement system must complete the basic training course for Police Officers as prescribed by the New Jersey Police Training Commission, and Firefighters must receive Firefighter 1 certification through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety. What is important to note is that N.J.A.C. 17:4-2.4 mandates that should pension members not pass and/or receive said certification within eighteen (18) months after the final adoption of the new regulation, they will be dis-enrolled and removed as an active member of PFRS.
In essence, PFRS members that do not have the required training as specified under N.J.A.C. 17:4-2.4, have until June 30, 2010, to complete the required training. If any active member of the retirement system not be fully trained by July 1, 2010, they will be removed as an active member of PFRS.
in closing, Ms. Jamison notes that certain federal, state, or county training may be substituted for the training required under N.J.A.C. 17:4-2.4, so long as the same is approved by the New Jersey Police Training Commission and the PFRS Board of Trustees. However for Firefighters, no other training other than Firefighter 1 certification through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety, will be accepted. It should also be noted that while the letter is silent regarding Corrections Officers; common sense dictates that completion of the Corrections Officers Training Academy (COTA) will satisfy the requirements of N.J.A.C. 17:4-2.4. However at this time we are contacting the Board of trustees to obtain clarification to ensure Corrections personnel are protected and covered.
The reason that we are bringing this to the attention of our readers is to ensure that all Public Safety Officers are made aware of the new regulation and that their training certification is up to date for purposes of qualifying as a member of the Police and Firemen's Retirement System. PFRS is regarded as the "gem" of the public employment retirement systems in the State of New Jersey. For obvious reasons, the retirement system garners great benefits for its membership in comparison to the other large public employment retirement systems provided by the state of New Jersey. over the years, PFRS and the New Jersey State Legislature has been lobbied by administrators and non public safety officer groups to obtain membership in the retirement system. With the passage of the new regulation, there should no longer be a question as to which employees have the right and ability to claim membership in PFRS.