Fact Check: Did Jack Ciattarelli “Defund the Police” as Governor Murphy claims

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It might seem strange that Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican nominee for governor in New Jersey heads into November without any major police union endorsements against Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, who marched hand-in-hand with the “Defund the Police” protesters in 2020.

Instead, it is Murphy that has two major police endorsements, the NJPBA and the Port Authority Police PBA. Neither candidate received the endorsement of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police (NJFOP). In 2017, the NJFOP endorsed Murphy.

There’s a reason the police unions are avoiding Ciattarelli. He hasn’t always been in their corner, despite pushing a pro-police persona on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday, Murphy chalked that up to his opponent being the candidate who has defunded police. The two candidates sparred on the topic at the first gubernatorial debate of the 2021 election cycle.

Jack Ciattarelli slammed Murphy for marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protesters who were demanding defunding of the police.

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“No justice no peace,” Ciattarelli said, mocking the protest.

Murphy said he is the pro-police candidate, touting his endorsements and his replenishment of police retirement funds.

“My opponent as a freeholder in Somerset County took actions that led to actually defunding the police,” Murphy said. “Ten sheriff’s officers had to be let off.”

Ciattarelli denied Murphy’s accusation, but did it really happen? Did Jack Ciattarelli defund the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department that forced the layoff of 10 officers?

According to NJ.com, in 2010, while Ciattarelli was serving as an elected member of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, he did oversee the layoff of 10 officers. At the time, Ciattarelli served as the Freeholder Director.

“Freeholder Director Jack Ciattarelli said it was the county’s responsibility to provide a flat tax rate to residents in light of the economy and called the six unions who did not agree to salary freezes reprehensible,” according to the NJ.com report. “It didn’t have to come to this, but quite frankly a few of the unions have left us with no other alternatives.”

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The head of the FOP lodge affected by the layoffs said Ciattarelli laid of the officers despite the county having $18 million in budget surplus.

“There is no reason they have to lay off anyone,” DeFillippo said in the NJ.com interview. “I don’t know how you can lay people off, look in the eyes of these officers and tell them they’re fired when you’re budgeting $18 million in surplus.”

It wasn’t the only time Ciattarelli tried to interfere in policing. Also during his tenure on the Board of Chosen Freeholders, he tried to abolish local municipal police departments, in favor of a county-wide police force under his authority. That attempt failed.

Long before the term “defund the police” was a catchphrase by America’s left, New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli was trying to do just that. Source: NJ.Com

Back in 2012, then as an elected member of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Ciattarelli had a plan to cut $44 million in funding from the 19 municipal police agencies with an attempt to merge them all into a single police force.

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The idea was too far fetched for both Democrat and Republican mayors in those counties. Eventually, they rejected the plan. Ciattarelli called it an ‘affront to the taxpayers’ having the nineteen separate police forces each with their own patrol cars, headquarters, communications systems and management structures.

“We cannot continue to gripe about property taxes and then do nothing to transform our cost structure,” Ciattarelli said. “The regionalization of police is the best way to transform our cost structure.”

We reached out to Ciattarelli’s campaign back in May for their response to this topic but were ignored. Since then, Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign has blocked Shore News Network from its social media pages.