In the world of Public Employee Discipline as it pertains to New Jersey municipal police officers, we often turn to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147, or more commonly referred to as the “45 day rule", in ensuring that municipalities act within a reasonable time frame in bringing disciplinary charges against public safety officers. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Guidelines provide that pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147, disciplinary charges alleging a violation of the agency’s rules and regulations must be filed within 45 days of the date the person filing the charge obtained sufficient information to file the charge. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147 states that, a “Complaint charging a violation of the internal rules and regulations… shall be filed no later than the 45th day after the date on which person filing the complaint obtained sufficient information to file the matter upon which the complaint is based.”

Many municipalities, police departments, and collective bargaining units have interpreted N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147 as being applicable to all disciplinary charges and alleged misconduct whether the same violated internal rules, regulations, or procedures or in the alternative fell under misconduct as defined under Title 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code, or 2C criminal misconduct. However, the world of police discipline as we used to understanding it no longer exists. The Appellate division has clarified N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147.

In the case of McElwee v. Borough of Fieldsboro, A-1230-06T3, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division opined that N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147’s time limit for bringing disciplinary charges against an employee does not apply when the charges are based on misconduct grounded in title 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code, nor 2C of the New Jersey Criminal Code. Thus, municipalities may take their time in charging alleged misconduct and do not have to adhere to the “45 day” rule so long as the alleged misconduct is grounded in title 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code or 2C of the New Jersey Criminal Code.

It appears that the only way collective bargaining units can now broaden the scope of N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147 is to include a contractual clause in collective bargaining agreements that places time restraints on “all disciplinary charges”. The bottom line is that the protection New Jersey municipal police officers once enjoyed under N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147 is not as broadly defined as it used to be. 

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.