Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Howarth establishing dedicated license plates for the family members of fallen police and firefighters cleared the Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A4136), which passed with a 9-0 vote, creates tags for the survivors of public servants whose death resulted from their work or status as officers or firefighters.
New Jersey joins a growing list of states introducing special tags recognizing the families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
“Our police and firefighters put their lives in danger every day, not because it’s a job, but because it’s a calling,” said Howarth (R-Burlington). “Knowing the risks, these heroes chose to serve and protect the public at all cost. If they are lost in the line of duty, family members are left to cope with the pain and hardship.”
A fund is authorized by the bill to receive monetary donations from individuals, corporations or organizations to pay for the license tags. The license plates will come at no cost to the family members who apply for them.
Howarth was inspired to sponsor the bill by Gerald Traynor, a law enforcement officer whose father died 30 years ago in the line of duty while serving as a Philadelphia police officer.
“The license plates are recognition to the survivors that they are still a part of the law enforcement family and community,” said Traynor, who is a sergeant with the Long Beach Township Police Department.
Traynor called the license plates sacrosanct in other states and said they act as a reminder to law enforcement to reach out to family members of fallen police and firefighters to make sure they keep a connection.
“It’s a reminder to people that are driving by and see a license plate that the news story doesn’t end when the officer is killed. There are still survivors out there that are living and trying to move on,” Traynor said.