[175 NJSuper Page 103] By a verified complaint, plaintiff PBA Local 278, New Jersey State Campus Police ("PBA Local"), instituted this action seeking a judgment declaring that it is a State Police agency, its members are State Police within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(a)(7), and therefore its members are exempt from the prohibition against possession of guns set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
The members of PBA Local are employees of the State in the classified civil service. They are employed as campus police at the various state colleges. They may be transferred from one campus to another. They are appointed pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.2 et seq. Prior to the effective date of the new criminal code, N.J.S.A. 2C:1-1 et seq. , campus police officers while on duty had all the authority of police officers in criminal cases, N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.5, but their right to carry firearms or other weapons, was subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the chief executive officer of the college to which they were assigned. N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41.2. The rules and regulations were not uniform at the colleges.
PBA Local asserts that by reason of the changes made by the adoption of the new criminal code, its members now have all the rights to possess and carry firearms as regular police. It therefore seeks an injunction restraining John J. Degnan, the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, and the chief executive officer of each of the state colleges from interfering with those rights. By reason of the fact that its members may be transferred from campus to campus, it asserts that they face conflicting regulations and that they need firearms at all times to perform their duties as well as to protect themselves.
The Attorney General filed an answer on behalf of defendants admitting the facts that are relevant for the resolution of this action but disputing the asserted legal contentions. The Attorney General then moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.
Since the facts are not disputed, the court has treated the motion as one for summary judgment. R. 4:46-2.
The statutes applicable to the members of the PBA Local before the enactment of the new Criminal code will be reviewed first and then the applicable provisions of the Code.
L. 1970, c. 211, ("appointing act"), repealed the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 15:11-16 to 20 authorizing the governing bodies of universities, colleges, academies, schools or other institutions of learning to apply to the authority with power to
appoint police in the municipality where the institution was located to commission such persons as the governing bodies designated to act as police for the institution. Upon such application, the authority was directed to appoint such persons. See N.J.S.A. 15:11-16. The provisions of L. 1970, c. 211, are found in N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.2 to 4.11.
The governing body of the respective institutions are given power to designate and appoint persons as "policemen for the institution" subject to a review of all applications for such appointments by either the chief of police in the municipality where the institution is located or the Superintendent of the State Police where there is no local chief of police to determine the competence and fitness of the applicants. N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.3. If appointed, the applicant must within one year complete a training course approved by the Police Training Commission or obtain a waiver on the ground that such person has had the equivalent of such training. N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.4.
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.5 provides:
Every person so appointed and commissioned shall, while on duty, within the limits of the property under the control of the respective institutions and on contiguous streets and highways, possess all the powers of policemen and constables in criminal cases and offenses against the law.
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-4.8 provides that "[t]he provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41 [carrying or possessing weapons without permit] shall not apply to any policemen appointed pursuant to the provisions of this act."
Except for enumerated categories of police officers and others which did not include the members of PBA Local, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41.1 provided that anyone having, carrying or possessing a weapon as defined in N.J.S.A. 2A:151-1 "on the premises of any public or private school, college or university" was guilty of a high misdemeanor. N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41.2 further provided that even if a person had a valid permit to carry a pistol or revolver, such person had no defense under N.J.S.A. ...