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Acting AG Platkin issues guidelines to ensure the accommodation of pregnant police officers

NEW JERSEY – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin Thursday announced guidelines designed to help make policing a more compelling career path for women by safeguarding the workplace rights of pregnant and breastfeeding officers at law enforcement agencies statewide.

Providing guidance to agencies regarding the reasonable accommodation of pregnant officers under state and federal law is intended to promote uniformity in the treatment of pregnant officers, remove certain obstacles to the professional success of women officers, and ultimately help improve the diversity of New Jersey’s officer ranks, Platkin said.

The guidance comes after Governor Phil Murphy in 2020 signed a law (the “Act”) designed to ensure that every law enforcement agency in New Jersey is “comprised of law enforcement officers who reflect the diversity of the population of the community the agency is charged with protecting.”  Under that law, agencies submitted demographics of current officers to the Attorney General in 2021, which are publicly available through the Office of Justice Data.  That data collection showed an underrepresentation of women law enforcement officers.  In 2021, women officers comprised ten percent of officers statewide.  By rough comparison, over half of all New Jersey’s residents are women.

“Those who are pregnant, no matter their occupation, deserve to have reasonable accommodations in the workplace during pregnancy and after having recently given birth,” said Governor Murphy. “These guidelines will help our law enforcement departments attract and retain female officers who may not have considered it possible to safely and comfortably climb the ranks of law enforcement while experiencing the joys of becoming or being a new parent. I thank the Attorney General for advancing this critical initiative and making our law enforcement agencies more welcoming workplaces for all.”

“I, along with law enforcement executives around the state, am committed to removing barriers to pursuing a career in law enforcement,” Platkin said. “Pregnancy can create unique professional challenges for workers across industries, and those challenges are only exacerbated by the demands of wearing the badge.  Although significant work and time will be needed to increase the representation of women in law enforcement, these Guidelines on providing reasonable accommodations to pregnant officers are a significant initial step in that effort.”

“The guidance in this directive provides our female law enforcement officers with options to effectively perform their duties without compromising their health and well-being while pregnant,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “Despite the many challenges a career in law enforcement may present, a pregnancy should never be a barrier to pursuing a successful career as a police officer.  We remain committed to supporting the Attorney General’s policies that ensure equal opportunities for all our law enforcement officers.”

Megan Flanagan, President of the New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement, said her organization “had the unique opportunity to work with Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin and his staff on this necessary guideline.  It will help in the recruitment of qualified females for the profession of law enforcement as well as to help retain them throughout their careers.  Another benefit is that it grants agencies the ability to create and implement a standard practice for those female officers wishing to balance being both a mother and a successful law enforcement officer.”

A detective with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Flanagan added that the guidelines “will reduce the stress female officers experience when they become pregnant and create an inclusive environment where they feel supported.  Undoubtedly, this will enhance the professionalism and diversity of New Jersey’s law enforcement community.  We want to thank Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police for allowing us to be an integral part of this collaborative process.”

Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, which worked with the Attorney General’s Office on the guidelines, said “increasing representation in law enforcement while also providing for additional workplace rights for our members will always be among our top priorities and these new guidelines will help create an environment that achieves both goals.  These guidelines will also help with our recruitment, which is critically important given the recent decrease in the ranks of law enforcement in New Jersey and around the country.”

The procedures laid out in this policy apply various federal and state laws concerning treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding employees to the law enforcement context, touching upon accommodations relating to uniforms, and firearms, among other things. These Guidelines are intended to promote the Act’s goal of improving diversity among our law enforcement officers, including gender diversity, and are issued pursuant to the Act’s mandate.

The Office of the Attorney General is grateful to the many partners and stakeholders who contributed to the crafting of this policy, and would especially like to thank the New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement for their leadership in this effort.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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