Court invalidates Interlocal Services Agreement for violating the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act
Woodbury, New Jersey (February 8, 2019) – Four former Newfield police officers successfully challenged the Interlocal Services Agreement entered into between Newfield Borough and Franklin Township on October 16, 2017. Judge Benjamin C. Telsey of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County Vicinage ruled on February 7, 2019 the agreement between the two municipalities to share police services was based on a repealed statute and violated the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act. The Court sent a clear message to municipalities considering a shared services agreement for police services that any such agreement must comply with the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act which requires the merger of the police departments. In this case, all four officers were terminated as a condition Franklin Township apparently placed on the agreement to share services. As a result, on October 31, 2017 all four officers employed by Newfield, including its Chief of Police, were laid off from their jobs as police officers. The Court, recognizing the difficulties in granting any relief which would require Newfield to reinstate its police department or which would require Franklin to hire the officers at this point in time, made clear that Franklin and Newfield must compensate the officers for the financial losses they incurred. Each officer would have made substantially more money working for Franklin.
Jacqueline M. Vigilante, Esquire of The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. represented the four police officers.
According to Vigilante, “Shared services can be a benefit for New Jersey taxpayers when done correctly. However, one of the fundamental principles of the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act is to protect the tenure of the involved police officers. Unfortunately, Newfield and Franklin ignored those protections and created a contract which was invalid from the start.” She cautioned, “Municipalities must exercise care when creating any agreement of this type which will impact the rights of the men and women who serve in law enforcement. When municipal agencies fail in that regard, they will be held accountable.”