Governor signs Dancer bill removing civil service exam obstacle for entry-level law enforcement

February 6, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s legislation making it easier for police departments to hire more diverse and qualified officers was signed into law this week.

The law (A5122/S3220) permits a municipality or county police department to exempt entry-level officers from the required civil service law enforcement exam, provided they successfully completed the full basic course for police officers as prescribed by the New Jersey Police Training Commission. 

“Any police officer who obtains full certification certainly has demonstrated the administrative capacity and skill sets to pass months of police-related training exams without an additional civil service test,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “If they can pass the physical requirements and rigors of the full basic course for police officers, they have demonstrated they can handle the responsibilities that come with the badge.” 

Dancer explained that the law is permissive and can only become operative in a town if it adopts an ordinance or resolution to permit such hiring, and the police department has a conflict of interest and nepotism policy. The bill does not affect a town’s ability to offer a hiring preference for veterans.

“This law will open a lot of doors for aspiring police officers and create departments that are more representative of the towns they serve,” said Dancer.

The state administers the civil service law enforcement exam every two years. Approximately 28,000 applicants took the exam in 2019.