On August 19, 2013, the Appellate Division for the Superior Court of New Jersey released an unpublished opinion that affirmed the Trial Court’s decision to dismiss the FOP’s complaint that sought to vacate an arbitration award. In the matter entitled, 25-2-1046 Fraternal Order of Police – New Jersey Labor Council Inc. v. Township of Pennsville, App. Div. the FOP appealed from a Chancery Division order that dismissed its complaint in which it sought to vacate an arbitration award upholding a disciplinary action against a patrolman.
The Appellate Division found that N.J.S.A. 40:14-118 empowers the governing body of a municipality to adopt an ordinance establishing a police department and delegating to others the authority to prepare rules and regulations for the control of that department and the discipline of its members, without the need for a separate ordinance. Additionally, the Court went on to further state that the ordinance did not contravene N.J.S.A. 40:14-118 by designating the mayor as the appropriate authority responsible for the overall performance of the police department while designating the Township Committee as the body responsible for adoption of the department’s Rules and Regulations.
Therefore, since the patrolman was disciplined under validly enacted rules and regulations, the Court affirmed the decision of the lower court that dismissed the complaint to vacate the arbitration award and upheld the discipline that was handed down to the patrolman.
In essence, this case affirms the premonition that a local police department’s internal rules and regulations do not have to be enacted by way of adopting a local ordinance.