It’s no secret that many Jersey municipalities are strapped for cash, and face difficult challenges in raising sufficient capital to fund their local police departments.

One New Jersey lawmaker believes we need to think outside the box to get this accomplished without raising taxes any higher.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Cream Ridge) is sponsoring legislation that would let every municipality in the Garden State create public safety trust funds to help police departments. All of the money would be collected through private donations.

“With the 2 percent property tax cap the municipal budgets are very restrained when it comes to providing police officer safety equipment,” he said.

Dancer added having these trust funds would be an effective way to “give salary enhancements to police officers in some of these departments that just aren’t up with the larger municipalities." He said the money would help retain police officers.

He stressed these donations would in no way impact a contractual salary, so pensions would not be affected in any way, even if the officer was making more money.

Dancer said once someone made a donation to such fund, the mayor and governing body in that community would make the determination as to how to properly allocate and distribute the funds — but all donations would be used to help the local police department, whether it be for “a salary enhancement, or public safety equipment, such as police officer body-worn cameras or the bullet-proof vest.”

The proposed legislation stipulates the donation would have to go to the municipal governing body, and then local officials would have to adopt procedures and policies to hand over the money to their police department.

“It ultimately is up to the governing body to make these distributions to their police officers,” he said.

Dancer stressed “this is an opportunity for us to begin supporting our law enforcement community. Not only morally is it the right thing to do but I think it’s time financially as well."

"No one wants to pay more taxes, but everyone wants public safety," he said. "It’s time for us to begin thinking about doing things a little differently instead of just trying to do it all through taxes.”

He added we all need to help law enforcement, and the way “to provide a unique creative new way of enhancing public safety in this state is to do it through private donations that are going to be tax deductable.”

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