On September 24, 2014, two veteran Stafford Township (Ocean County) police officers sued the Township and Police Chief Joseph Giberson claiming that a promotional examination for the rank of Sergeant concluded in 2013 by the Stafford Township Police Department was "unlawful . . . arbitrary and capricious [and] manipulated by" Chief Giberson and Township officials.
According to a federal civil complaint filed by Stafford Police Officers David L. McVey and Drew G. Smith, sixteen officers applied for position of Sergeant in 2012. The applicants underwent a two-part examination consisting of "Phase I" which was a multiple choice, written test and "Phase II" which was an evaluation by superior officers, including Chief Giberson.
The NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission is proposing making miniscule changes to the way some reports are filed. They are seeking comments on these changes by February 17th. Below is the letter I sent them.
Michelle R. Levy, Esq., Associate Legal Director
Election Law Enforcement Commission
PO Box 185
Trenton, NJ 08625-0185
Dear members of the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission:
Lawsuit seeks details on school principal who unexpectedly resigned after being interviewed by prosecutor
Clinton attorney Walter M. Luers recently filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit on my behalf for a county prosecutor's records regarding an investigation involving a former Atlantic County school principal who unexpectedly took a paid leave of absence on January 30, 2014 and resigned on March 31, 2014.
Lawsuit seeks nature of “suspicious incident” that resulted in Bound Brook High School teacher's firing
On March 11, 2015 at 9 a.m., Somerset County Superior Court Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone will hear argument in my newly filed lawsuit against the Borough of Bound Brook (Paff v. Borough of Bound Brook, Docket No. SOM-L-72-15). The main issue in my lawsuit, which was filed by Montclair attorney Richard M. Gutman, is whether Bound Brook Borough violated my rights under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access by redacting the "narrative description" from a police report of an October 29, 2014 incident involving a 24-year-old teacher (identified as the "Suspect") and an unidentified juvenile (identified as the "Victim").
Lakewood agrees to withdraw disciplinary complaint against cop in exchange for cop's resignation. Cop's "drug use" will be reported to the State
In a December 17, 2014 "Confidential Agreement," the Township of Lakewood (Ocean County) agreed withdraw a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action filed against a police officer on June 16, 2014 in exchange for that officer's resignation. While the basis for the disciplinary charge is not specified, the agreement requires the Lakewood Police Department to "report [the officer's] resignation and drug use to the New Jersey Drug Registry." This suggests that the officer's disciplinary charge was related to his possession or use of illegal drugs.
Update: The Judgment of Conviction (JOC) in my original post referenced a separate indictment numbered 13-06-1490. The JOC made the probationary charges for both charges run concurrently. I submitted another Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office (OCPO) to find out the nature of the charges that resulted in I-13-06-1490. The OCPO's response is on-line here. The new charge alleged that on February 8, 2013, O'Reilly, "in an attempt to keep [victim Shirley Mullen] from testifying in legal proceeding [called Mullen] and threaten[ed] her by stating that she will never make it to court." Judge Blaney downgraded the original charge of Witness Tampering-Third Degree to Harassment, which is a disorderly persons offense, and sentenced O'Reilly to a two-year probationary period to run concurrently with the probationary sentence imposed for the assault charge. He also ordered her to pay $125 in state assessments
On June 13, 2014, Ocean County Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney sentenced a female Point Pleasant Borough (Ocean County) Police Communications Officer to two years probation for knocking another woman unconscious by hitting her in the head with a wood log.
The platform committee of 2014-2015 consisted of Liz Macron (Committee Chair), Kyler Dineen, Patrick McKnight, Jay Edgar, Dan Karlan, Marc Carcanague, Jim Tosone, Bill Sihr, Justin Quinn, Jim Gawron, Dorit Goikhman, and Sean Riggs.
The proposals were approved by the committee on January 21st. Below are these proposals as they were accepted by the delegates attending our last State Convention on March 21st. All changes made at convention were incorporated below. Changes have also been incorporated into our full platform that can be found here.
Proposal #1. Plank 6 Education Transition statement change
Rationale for change:
The transition section should propose a solution that is politically feasible in today's political environment. The current suggestion having government schools “sold to private or non-profit enterprises” is not feasible as a transition. Technology changes provide much greater options for education than ever before. As a result of this and societal changes there are more educational options available than when the platform was last updated.
Proposed Change: Replace entire transition from:
Transition: All school-related taxes should be gradually repealed starting with the taxes on those without children or those whose children are in private school or no longer in school. We endorse dollar-for-dollar tax credits for any contribution to a recognized school. We also call for the repeal of the “thorough and efficient” provision of the New Jersey Constitution (Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 1).
Public schools should be sold to private or non-profit enterprises, including, if they wish, teachers or associations of teachers. Restriction and regulation of home schooling should be removed.
Transition: Education choice should be given to parents and children, encouraging schools to compete with each other. We support ending the government monopoly on education by allowing parents and taxpayers more choices where education tax money is spent and where and how their children are educated. School voucher programs, education tax credits, or charitable tax incentives should be used to encourage a free market in education.
I often report of incidents where police officers give preferential treatment to fellow officers. This is not one of those times.
From reading a Camden County Prosecutor's Office "Special Prosecutions Summary Report" on-line here, I learned that an unidentified Camden Metro Police Officer was suspended for 47 days for having a motor vehicle accident while allegedly driving intoxicated in Stratford Borough (Camden County) on October 26, 2013. Harper pleaded guilty on January 10, 2014 and was assesses a total of $664 and had his license suspended for 90 days. The court's disposition is on-line here.
Police Departments in New Jersey are required to annually report a synopsis of all Internal Affairs cases that resulted in imposition of a 10-day or greater fine or suspension. Jersey City provided redacted reports for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 which I've placed on-line here.
I believe that the types of charges, some involving criminal conduct, against these officers may be of interest to readers.
01/22/15 UPDATE: North Bergen police have confirmed that the March 28, 2011 entry regarding a male police officer allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old girl in North Bergen motel related to Officer Marcos Kelly. This is not news as it has been written about in the Star Ledger. The Jersey City IA roster confirms that Kelly was allowed to enter into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program and can never again hold "any office or position of honor, trust or profit under this State or any of its administrative or political subdivisions." North Bergen's police incident report is on-line here.
I have recently learned that the Township of Manchester (Ocean County), on or about May 20, 2014, appealed an Ocean County judge's February 21, 2014 decision to reinstate a Township police officer to his position after the Township fired him on June 29, 2012. The judge also awarded the officer all back pay and, in a separate opinion issued on April 24, 2014, declined to require the Township to pay the officer's attorney fees.
On August 1, 2014, the New Jersey Libertarian Party (NJLP) formally petitioned the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for a rule requiring municipalities and other local government units to specify an "up to" dollar amount in each resolution that awards a public contract. At its December 10, 2014 meeting, the DCA's Local Finance Board preliminarily approved the requested rule and will consider final adoption after a 60-day public comment period.
The NJLP submitted its rulemaking petition in response the Parsippany-Troy Hills governing body's award of a no-bid financial consulting contract to a company that was reportedly owned by or tied to the township's recently-resigned Chief Financial Officer. The resolution that awarded the contract and other related paperwork said only that the amount of the contract "will exceed $17,500." When a local newspaper requested records showing the exact contract amount, Parsippany-Troy Hills responded that the contract "hasn't been signed by the Administration [and that] could take up to 30 days."
Submachine Guns: The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Donation of Submachine Guns in Lakewood Raises Eyebrows
It's already controversial for our nation's local police departments to receive surplus assault rifles and equipment from the US military for use by law enforcement officers. It's a whole other ball game for these weapons to be donated by a member of the community in appreciation of the police's help with a local religious festival.
Records show that an unnamed religious community events organizer was so appreciative of the help that New Jersey's Lakewood Township and its police department gave during a September carnival that they wanted to make a donation to the local police department. What did this anonymous organizer want to donate? 10 brand new assault rifles from Israel. Ones that they had test fired themselves on their last trip there.
On November 26, 2014, the Ocean County Department of Corrections agreed to pay $25,000 to a county jail inmate who claimed that he was assaulted by a jail guard. Additionally, the jail guard was charged with aggravated assault and resigned from his job after entering the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI).
In his suit, Armando Penales said that on December 22, 2012, while he was in the Ocean County Jail awaiting sentencing on a robbery charge, he was assaulted "without justification" by Corrections Officer Timothy Browning. He also claims that he was denied medical treatment for the injury he received and that Browning filed a disciplinary charge against him for "Refusing to Obey an Order of any Staff Member" which was later dismissed.
On Tuesday Mathew Reardon was arrested for making a statement on Facebook. He stated "Don't wanna get clipped while sitting in your squad car?? Don't be a (expletives deleted) pig who's looking to get killed...Everyone who goes out of their way to (expletive deleted) with other people should get executed in cold blood."
The statement, while offensive, was not a direct threat. His statement was made just days before the funeral of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who where killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley while they sat in their patrol car.
I understand the increased level of alertness since the shooting, however this is a disturbing use of police force. Stupid statements made on Facebook by citizens and police alike do not warrant police action.
Back in March, I filed a lawsuit against Hainesport Township (Burlington County) seeking a list of all public officials, employees and retirees who have been enrolled in the Township's health insurance plan during 2011 to 2014. For background on that suit, which I won, please see my blog here.
Haineport originally said that it would appeal the lower court's decision that forced it to make the information public. Recently, however, Hainesport withdrew its appeal plans. On December 19, 2014, Township Clerk Leo F. Selb, Jr. released an Excel spreadsheet which I've placed on-line here. (Note that there are tabs at the bottom of the file that show the enrollees during each year.)
Haven't our legislators learned anything? The State Assembly has unanimously passed A783, a bill that increases penalties for possession of various drugs. The goal is to go after distributors however it uses weight of material possessed as the only factor in determining seriousness of the offense. The bill decreases threshold offenses for many drugs.
Of note is the estimated financial impact: "Costs would total $3,393,164, in the third year following enactment, increase to $5,552,214 in the fourth year, and $7,711,264 during the fifth and succeeding years following enactment." The total financial impact is stated as being "higher than the amount estimated by the DOC by an undetermined amount."
The Mullica Township Committee was considering an ordinance banning dressing in clothes meant for the opposite sex, begging, lewd books, houses of ill repute, or any behavior that may have a negative impact on the quality of life of the residents.
The proposed ordinance was not only extremely vague, but would be unconstitutional. John Paff, chair of the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, sent a letter to the township committee pointing out that such an ordinance would be invalid. As a result of this letter and many residents questioning the need for such an ordinance, the Township Committee has tabled the ordinance.