By Patrick Colligan, President, New Jersey PBA
As the nation’s law enforcement community carefully monitors the progress of the Presidential Primary campaigns, I wanted to share my disgust with you on the comments made Tuesday night by Governor Christie about supporting police officers.
No other group of law enforcement officers is as well acquainted with the Governor than the New Jersey State PBA. From the time he won office to now, Chris Christie has gone out of his way to undermine, demean and damage the law enforcement profession like no Governor in State history. There is no question he is a smooth and commanding candidate. But what he says and what he does are two vastly different things.
During his 2009 race for Governor, he wrote an “open letter” to our members urging them to defy the State PBA and vote for him because he would never cut pensions for any current or future officer or retiree. This soon became the fastest broken promise in the history of politicians and within 6 months of his first term he began a systematic purge of law enforcement officer salary, benefits and jobs that continues to today. His policies have led to thousands of layoffs of officers in our cities and suburbs. His slashing of law enforcement pension benefits is not only a broken promise but it was a direct assault on our members despite the fact that our pension system is New Jersey’s healthiest.
Governor Christie not only used State resources to force the layoff of every Camden City police officer but he is currently using the same tactic to entice other cities to do the same. He cloaks his rhetoric in false stats about crime when his real goal was, then and now, to break collective bargaining agreements.
He may make grand statements about supporting our police officers but he uses our police memorial services as a photo op—last to arrive, look solemn, leave before having to actually speak to any of the officers he has dishonored with his attacks and his policies. The litany of wrongs are too numerous to mention in a single letter. But the idea that he is the candidate for President who will fight to defend law enforcement is ludicrous. It is our long experience that leads me to believe that a Christie Presidency will yield right to work laws, denial of federal aid to States with defined benefit pensions and an end to federal grant programs to support and promote the law enforcement profession.
It is true that many politicians, including some prominent Democrats, have supported and promoted individuals and groups who seek to attack the law enforcement profession. The decision as to who law enforcement officers should support for President is therefore not an easy one to make as it is. But Governor Christie is not the candidate who “has our back.” To be blunt: If Chris Christie has my back, please ask him to pull the hatchet out from it before asking me for my vote for President.