Every time one pol messes up, the rest lose a perk

With all the talk about allegations that Attorney General Zulima Farber used her influence to convince a Fairview police officer to void tickets given to her live-in boyfriend, Barbara Comerford raises a valid point about a society where law enforcement officials “routinely distribute PBA cards and shields to friends and family to get out of moving violations.” Comerford, a Bergen County attorney and sometime WMCA radio host, said in an Op-Ed defending Farber in The Record that “If all who have them are willing to relinquish their New Jersey PBA cards and the police discretion that comes with them, then perhaps the moral outcry about this incident might pass the straight-face test.” One of the perks that comes from being a state legislator is the stack of those so-called “get out of jail free” cards that are routinely distributed by the Policeman’s Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the State Trooper Fraternal Association, the Italian American Police Society of New Jersey, and others. Some legislators give these cards to their own friends and family — it probably would not be a stretch to assume that a few of these cards even find their way into the wallets of campaign donors. Asked about the practice of receiving and distributing law enforcemet courtesy cards, one legislative staffer noted that “Zulima won’t make any friends here if she’s responsible for eliminating this perk too.” The use of these cards has been controversial in the past. In 2001, Bergen County Sheriff Joseph Ciccone pled guilty to trading “Honorary Deputy Sheriff” badges for contributions to his campaign fund. Ciccone was forced to resign his office with a lifetime ban on working in the public sector.