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LAWSUIT: Former North Jersey Police Officer Fired Over EMT Work During Pandemic

Thomas Trommelen
Thomas Trommelen Photo Credit: Harding Township Police (Facebook photo)

A former Morris County police officer has filed a lawsuit alleging he was forced to quit for taking a job as a Bergen County EMT during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clifton's Thomas Trommelen says he was forced to resign from the Harding Police Department after officials there refused to approve his work as a Fort Lee EMT, over fears he would be at risk for contracting Coronavirus, according to the suit filed last week in state Superior Court in Morris County.

Trommelen, 27, didn't want to leave the force because he felt it was understaffed at the onset of the pandemic, the suit says.

Trommelen been simultaneously working as a Little Falls EMT and Clifton patrol officer without incident for three years, the suit says. In 2019, he joined the Harding Police Department and while continuing work as an EMT in Passaic County -- and his supervisors knew that, the suit says.

The officer notified his supervisors as he was preparing to take the EMT job in Fort Lee, but heard nothing back for weeks, the lawsuit says.

Trommelen resigned from his job in Little Falls to work in Fort Lee, and requested approval for the second job from Chief Erik Heller -- still, no response, the suit states.

The officer trained with Fort Lee on his days off in March and had his first shift on the calendar for April 2. Just before the shift, Trommelen was informed he had not bee approved to work the second job due to COVID-19, according to the suit.

“[The denial] was based on an irrational fear that assisting the public during the COVID-19 health crisis was an improper activity for plaintiff to engage in," the lawsuit reads.

Trommelen still worked the shift in Fort Lee, though, was later served a Rice notice from his Harding police supervisor, according to the suit. The officer says he tried contacting Heller about the notice, and was told he had to resign that day, or else the department would seek his termination by the Township Council.

The officer was "under severe duress" on April 13, when he resigned from the Harding Township Police Department, according to the lawsuit.

Trommelen is seeking punitive and compensatory damages to recover lost pay and benefits, and retirement money. He is reportedly seeking to be reinstated to the department, too.

Heller did not immediately respond to Daily Voice's request for comment Friday.

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