Halpern, Larner and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by Larner, J.A.D.
The issues herein arise in three consolidated appeals from judgments declaring that the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Middlesex County is responsible for the cost of defense of a civil rights suit instituted against two municipal police officers and a prosecutor's detective in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Garrett Voorhees is a detective on the police force of the Township of Edison. Dominick Cavallero holds a similar position on the police force of the Township of Woodbridge. John Deliman is a prosecutor's detective attached to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office.
On February 3, 1972, at the request of the Middlesex County Prosecutor, the board of freeholders adopted a resolution approving and authorizing the formation of a task force to combat narcotics-related offenses, in which it exhorted county officials and all municipalities in the county to cooperate with the prosecutor in the formation of the task force and its endeavors.
Subsequently a number of municipalities, including Edison and Woodbridge, adopted resolutions in which they acknowledged their desire to cooperate and participate with the county prosecutor in their mutual effort through the manning and work of the task force. By way of implementation of their participation the resolutions of these municipalities provided that one or more members of the police department shall be designated by the police chief or director to become a "member of and participant" in the task force, and that each of these designees, in addition to his regular duties, shall "apply his professional time and effort to
enforcement of the narcotics laws in his own municipality and on assignment in other municipalities within the County. * * *"
Additionally, the resolutions stated that "the Township * * * shall be responsible for the full pay, allowance and benefits of the designated police officer while the latter is assigned to the Middlesex County Narcotics Task Force."
John Deliman, the detective employed in the prosecutor's office, was assigned by the prosecutor to take charge of the task force and supervise its activities.
As part of its duties, the task force, including the three members named above, was engaged in an investigation centered on alleged illegal activities of one Stephen Cavano. As a consequence of this investigation Cavano instituted an action against the police officers involved in this litigation, in which he sought damages for violation of his civil rights stemming from the actions of defendants in their official investigation. Concededly this civil proceeding arises out of the performance of the duties of those members of the task force who are the parties herein.
Suits were instituted by both municipalities and their police officers seeking a judgment declaring that the cost of defense of the federal court case should be undertaken either by the county and/or the State of New Jersey. The county detective Deliman also filed a complaint seeking similar relief against the county and/or the State.
The cases were heard at different times, resulting in judgments declaring that the Board of Freeholders of Middlesex County is obligated to provide for the defense of all the individual plaintiffs.*fn ...