Police Accountability Project
The Police Accountability Project is a committee of the NJ Libertarian Party. Its goal is to search out cases of police misconduct, file former Internal Affairs (IA) complaints when appropriate, and to publicize violations of rules and laws by the police. There may be other stories posted on the NJLP Police Internal Affairs Complaint Blog page.
In exchange for his guilty plea and forfeiture of the $56,000 seized, the State agreed to recommend a non-custodial probationary sentence.
- New Jersey Appellate Division decision, in State v. Al H. Aly, Docket No. A-5249-09T4, decided 04/12/2012
Under New Jersey Law, forfeited cash does not go to the general fund. Rather, "all money seized . . . shall become the property of the entity funding the prosecuting agency involved" and the prosecuting agency "shall divide the . . . money seized . . . with any other entity where the other entity's law enforcement agency participated in the surveillance, investigation, arrest or prosecution resulting in the forfeiture." N.J.S.A. 2C:64-6. (full text at http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012103Ok//2C64.pdf)
At the following link is a December 15, 2011 decision by Burlington County Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Kelly (retired on recall) affirming the conviction of an Air Force Captain for Obstruction (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a)) and Resisting Arrest (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-2a(1)). The decision is on-line here: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012101is//ReeceCrim.pdf
At issue was a "dropped" 911 call that came from Captain Evan Reece's home in Pemberton Township. (A "dropped" 911 call is a call that is received by police but in which the caller gives no voice response to the dispatcher.) When Sergeant Peter Delagarza came to investigate the call, Reece, in a calm voice and demeanor, told him that he did not place the call.
Phillipsburg Police Detective James P. Stettner II fired his duty revolver into the grave a former teacher and lied about it. He pled guilty in January and was fined $1,250 for discharging a firearm less than 300 feet from a home.
The Police Department is refusing to release the details of the internal investigation or what the department punishment was. Mr. Stettner remains on the force.
According to the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, Mr. Stettner was paid $87,600 by the town of Phillipsburg in 2010. His brother, Robert Stettner, is also a Phillipsburg Police Officer Captain. Their father, James P. Stettner, Jr. is on the Phillipsburg Town Council and is a former Phillipsburg Chief of Police.
In response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, I received an August 19, 2009 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Township of Hillside (Union County) and former Hillside police officer Francisco (Frank) Utset. I've placed the MOA on-line here: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012067P2//UtsetMemo.pdf
According to the MOA, the Township was in the process of firing Officer Utset for "engaging in conduct unbecoming a public employee" on July 21, 2008. To that end, the Township had issued a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action and suspended Utset, with pay, effective July 21, 2008--the day after the alleged "unbecoming" incident.
The Police Accountability Project sent the following letter to the Phillipsburg (Warren County) Mayor and Council. My thought is that even though the Council may not really care if a drug arrestee's constitutional rights were violated by a local cop, the amount of money that the cop's mistake may have cost the taxpayers may impress them.
February 21, 2012
Hon. Harry L. Wyant, Mayor and members of the Phillipsburg Town Council
675 Corliss Avenue
Phillipsburg, NJ, 08865
Dear Mayor Wyant and Council members:
I'm not a resident, but ask that you please review today's Appellate Division decision in the case of State v. Kevin Davis. The decision is on-line here:
Thanks to CATO's Police Misconduct Reporting Project for pointing me to this story.
A jury on Wednesday awarded $150,000 in punitive damages to the family of a Ramapough Indian who was fatally shot by a state park ranger five years ago in Mahwah.
With a 7-0 vote, the panel found that former Park Police Officer Chad Walder’s actions were “malicious or wanton” when he drew his gun and shot Emil Mann on April 1, 2006, during a confrontation near Ringwood State Park over ATV riding near Stag Hill.
On May 23, 2011, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project filed an Internal Affairs complaint against an Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County) police officer who conducted a warrantless search of a motor vehicle. The complaint was filed after two-judge Appellate Division panel found that Officer Michael Bordanaro's search of a vehicle, which resulted in him finding a loaded 9 mm handgun, was illegal because there were no "exigent circumstances" excusing him from first getting a search warrant.
On September 29, 2011, Clinton attorney Walter M. Luers filed a lawsuit on my behalf against two Atlantic County municipalities and their police officials seeking disclosure of records pertaining to a curious traffic stop during the early morning hours of February 17, 2011. A copy of that lawsuit is on-line here. A November 10, 2011 Press of Atlantic City article was written about it.
Records I requested reveal that at 2:04 a.m., Northfield City Police observed a black Mercedes sitting at a traffic light while the light went through multiple rotations. Police initially reported that they had difficulty waking the driver and getting him to "open up" the car's door. There were also recorded conversations indicating that the driver was "A.O.B." (which, in police-speak, means "alcohol on breath.")
As a result of a request from the NJ Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project, the following has been published in the New Jersey Register:
NEW JERSEY REGISTER
Copyright © 2011 by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law
VOLUME 43, ISSUE 18
ISSUE DATE: SEPTEMBER 19, 2011
LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
43 N.J.R. 2535(a)
Notice of Receipt of Petition for Rulemaking
I was contacted about this incident by one of the brothers and I passed the information on to CopBlock.org. Ademo made this video. The NJ Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project is investigating this further.
Previously Seaside Heights settled a suit for a similar arrest.
Back in 2009 we reported on Officer Joseph Rios beating a homeless man for no apparent reason in Passaic.
Superior Court Judge Donald J. Volkert Jr. has acquitted Officer Rios of a police brutality charge. Now that he has been acquitted one may assume that he will receive back pay for the time he has been on leave.
UPDATE: The video I posted was just uploaded last week, however I just learned that this is incident occured in 2008. A more informative video from the ACLU of NJ can be seen here. The Officer, Brian Sharif, was suspended however he currently works as a special officer for the Newark government schools.
Following is the New Jersey Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project's open letter to the mayor and council of Merchantville Borough (Camden County).
At issue is: A motor vehicle stop and an arrest were made by Merchantville Police officers in another municipality and a judge found that no probable cause existed for the stop. The stopped and arrested
motorist sued the police and recovered an $11,000 settlement. Yet, the Mercantville Internal Affairs Unit found that the officers "followed the appropriate departmental policies and procedures."
On May 19, 2011, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project filed an Internal Affairs Complaint against State Trooper Scott Sanders. The complaint was based on a decision of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division in which a two judge panel found that Sanders conducted an improper, warrantless search of a motor vehicle.
The court's decision caused suppression of "five dime bags of high grade marijuana, approximately a half ounce of cocaine, seven bricks of heroin, and five sealed blunts containing tobacco." Because of evidence the suppressed, the conviction and the six year prison sentence against the driver was reversed.