An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Troy Singleton, Shavonda Sumter and Angelica Jimenez providing a second chance at employment for members of the National Guard or the Reserves who could not accept a position as a police officer or firefighter because of service to the nation.
"Active duty assignments often derail plans for reserve and guard members who apply to join the police or fire department," said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). "When they are not fulfilling the part-time obligations of the reserves or the guard, we could use them here on our front lines as first responders and we should accommodate their obligations accordingly."
The sponsors said the bill (A-1873) allows a person who previously passed or subsequently passes a civil service examination for the position of police officer or firefighter, but who was unable or is unable to complete any other requirements for employment due to active duty in the National Guard or the Reserves, to have the person's name placed in order by score on a subsequent eligible list (designated by the person) for the same type of position.
"Their service, experience and highly trained skill set is reason enough to afford them a second opportunity to finish their application to become a police officer or firefighter," Singleton (D-Burlington). "This legislation strengthens teams of first responders in our communities by recruiting qualified service men and women."
"Our military men and women deserve every opportunity while at home to obtain gainful employment, especially if their skills meet the job qualifications," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "With this legislation, we can connect more service members to the job opportunities they want and need, while they continue to fulfill their military duty in the Reserves or National Guard."
"We should eliminate the red tape barring servicemen and women from continuing the application process after they have fulfilled their military obligations," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). "This bill will simply make it easier for a New Jersey member of the reserves and guard to become firefighters and police officers."
This bill states that the privilege would be available to Guardsmen and Reservists called to at least 30 days of continuous active duty after September 11, 2001 and prior to the termination of "Operation Freedom Sentinel." Any such person who met the maximum age requirement for a position at the announced closing date of the civil service exam on which the first list of eligible persons is based will be deemed to have met such maximum age requirement on the date that the person's name is placed on a subsequent eligible list.
The bill was approved by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.