The Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association (PSOA) is praising a New Jersey Civil Service Commission (NJ CSC) decision to uphold an upcoming lieutenants’ exam, coming out victorious after the city filed an appeal.
” … The JCPSOA views this decision as a reaffirmation of the core principles of civil service – merit, fitness, and fairness. We stand ready to support our members in pursuing career growth and will continue to champion the cause of a transparent, merit-based promotion system,” PSOA President Pawel Wojtowicz said in a statement.
The union asserts that they had to go to the CSC since attempts to internally solved the problem with Police Director Tawana Moody only led to “misinformation.”
“On appeal, the appointing authority argues that it should be permitted to opt out of the 2023 Police Lieutenant promotional examination cycle. In this regard, the appointing authority asserts that it made a managerial decision to keep its Police Lieutenant staffing levels at its current level of 66 positions,” yesterday’s seven-page decision says.
“It submits that on June 23, 2023, PERC denied an interim relief request from the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association … on the basis that a decision to promote or fill a vacancy was a managerial prerogative and that PERC also observed that included the prerogative of initiating or requesting a promotional examination process.”
The city, via attorney Arthur Thibault, Jr., also argued that another police lieutenant test would be a “meaningless examination, given that they already have 66 lieutenants on the 950-member force (up to 80 are allowed for a 1,200 member force).
They also mention that the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) denied an interim relief request from the PSOA on June 23rd, as well as that they have no vacancies to fill.
Conversely, counsel for the PSOA, Christopher Gray, said 64 police sergeants eligible to be promoted would be harmed by cancelling the announcement of a lieutenant’s test.
“Moreover, it states that some of its members could face the loss of thousands of dollars they paid for promotional courses after relying upon this agency’s July 5, 2023 and July 14, 2023 announcements for the subject examination,” the decision reads.
“… JCPSOA further argues that PERC’s determination does not have a bearing on the outcome in this matter, as the subject PERC decision dealt with the interpretation of contractual provisions which were subject to PERC’s review, while the instant matter involves the enforcement of Civil Service law, rules and policies which fall squarely within the purview of the Civil Service Commission (Commission).”
Furthermore, Gray highlighted that new state legislation allows police officers to retire after 20 years of service with a 50 percent pension, which means that 32 of the 66 current lieutenants are eligible to retire today.
” … The appointing authority has not made a significant showing of how it will be harmed if it does not utilize a list that promulgates. JCPSOA has rightfully acknowledged that even if the subject list promulgates, its members will not have a vested right of appointment from it,” the commission determined.
“Nevertheless, it submits that its members would still prefer to take the chance that the list will be utilized, as compared to the risk of vacancies arising without such a list in place, particularly given the time and expense a number of them have invested in preparing for the examination process.”
This was the final administrative determination in the matter, with any further review needing to be performed in the courts.
“This decision underscores the value of our merit-based system and ensures that the dedicated, eligible officers within our ranks, many of whom are minority and women candidates, have their opportunities for advancement protected,” added PSOA Vice President John Friend.
A city spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment.