Q. Police Training Commission’s Instructor Certification.
Questions can generally be answered by reviewing the Police Training Commission Rules N.J.A.C. 13:1-4 et seq. For additional information please contact:
609-376-2800 or fax your request to 609-984-4473.
Q. If a police officer returns to active duty from a leave of absence, disability retirement or disciplinary suspension, does he or she need to be retrained?
To determine the training obligations of a police officer returning to active duty, one must examine the reason for the officer’s interruption in service. A police officer who resigns or is terminated from employment following disciplinary action no longer possesses an appointment as a police officer.
Thus, the officer cannot return to active duty without a new appointment as a police officer. In contrast, a police officer who has not been assigned to active duty due to a disability retirement, a leave of absence or a disciplinary suspension does not surrender his or her right to employment. See, In re Allen, 262 N.J.Super. 438 (App. Div. 1993); In re Terebetski, 338 N.J.Super. 564 (App. Div. 2001). Under these circumstances, the officer retains his or her initial appointment as a police officer. Thus, he or she can return to active duty without a new appointment.
Under both state statute and case law, municipal police departments have a duty to train police officers. The statutory duty arises under the Police Training Act which requires newly appointed police officers to successfully complete a basic training course approved by the Police Training Commission as a condition of permanent appointment. Therefore, individuals who have resigned or who have been terminated from employment for disciplinary reasons and who obtain a new appointment as a police officer must satisfy the statutory training requirements imposed by the Police Training Act. More specifically, these individuals must complete the basic course for police officers or seek a waiver for training previously completed.
In contrast, individuals who return to active duty following a disability retirement, a leave of absence or a suspension from service do not require a new appointment and thus, are not subject to the training requirements imposed by the Police Training Act. However, the absence of a statutory training requirement does not excuse police agencies from the responsibility of ensuring that these individuals are adequately trained to perform the duties to which they have been assigned. McAndrew v. Mularchuk, 33 N.J. 172, 184 (1960). Therefore, police agencies should review the training records of police officers who are returning to duty under the circumstances outlined above to determine whether they are adequately trained to undertake their current assignment. Consideration should be given to each officer’s previous training, the length of his or her interruption in service and the extent to which the officer’s duties have changed since his or her interruption in service. Officers with a comparatively short interruption in service may require minimal re-training while an officer returning from a more substantial interruption in service may require extensive re-training. See, Canavera v. Township of Edison, 271 N.J.Super. 125 (App. Div. 1994). In either event, the decision to require re-training and the amount of re-training that must be completed before an individual may resume active service is a decision that should be made by the employing agency on a case-by-case basis.