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By Randy McIIwain
Critics of the Dallas Police Department want answers about alleged cover-ups in police misconduct investigations.
Members of the community, ranging from civil rights leaders and local attorneys to military members, held a news conference Thursday about the continued department misconduct.
The group specifically addressed recent officer-involved shootings.
"We’re going to file a complaint against the Dallas Police Department as well as the internal affairs division,” said Rev. Ronald Wright of Justice Seekers Texas.
Wright’s criticism comes after the city of Dallas paid a $900,000 settlement to the family of Tobias Mackey.
Mackey was shot to death in 2010 by then Dallas police officer Matthew Tate during a police sweep of a crime-ridden apartment.
Mackey had committed no crime and was unarmed when he was shot nine times.
Attorney Susan Hutchinson represented the Mackey family. She said Tate’s supervisor witnessed the shooting and testified that Mackey’s death was not justified and that he posed no threat.
"Because of that deposition and because of his statements, they are now investigating him,” said Hutchinson, referring to the Dallas Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. “I think it’s absolutely retaliatory. If you violate the unwritten code and say something against your fellow officer you are going to be the target,” said Hutchinson.
Since 2002, Justice Seekers Texas estimates there have been 68 officer-involved shootings in Dallas that resulted in paid settlements of about $7 million. Two current pending cases have resulted in officers' criminal indictments for shooting unarmed citizens.
Wright said he also wants to see mandatory random drug tests for officers. He believes that steroid use is occurring within the rank and file of Dallas police patrol and that the hormones can impact decision-making in critical calls.
The Dallas Police Department did not offer any comment on the calls for federal oversight.
The lawsuit is filed against the city of San Diego and former Officer Christopher Hays
By Andie Adams
The San Diego Police Department enforced an “unwritten policy” that encouraged police misconduct and led to scandals involving former officers Anthony Arevalos and Christopher Hays, a new lawsuit against the department alleges.
The suit was filed Wednesday by three of Hays’ alleged victims against the former officer and the city of San Diego.
In the 21-page document, attorneys outline the allegations against Hays, including forced oral copulation, masturbating in front of a woman and a suspicious traffic stop.
The lawsuit also tries to establish a pattern of misconduct by listing sexual assault accusations levied at Arevalos since 1999.
“That’s why we went back so far, to show the City of San Diego created this mess,” said attorney Dan Gilleon, who represents the alleged victims in the lawsuit.
Arevalos was convicted of eight counts of sexual battery, assault and asking for bribes in 2011, though a judge later threw out two of the convictions.
The lawsuit claims officers felt they could get away with such inappropriate behavior after former SDPD Chief William Lansdowne and other officials disbanded the anti-corruption unit called the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) around 2003.
“The elimination of the PSU, this specialized unit, was a signal and affirmation to the SDPD, its police officers and its supervisory officials that those police officers who chose to exploit their positions of power, authority and trust by victimizing members of the very community they had sworn to protect would not be investigated, prosecuted, pursued or punished for their actions,” the lawsuit reads.
As an example, the court document claims another officer reported to his supervisors that Arevalos had taken Polaroid pictures of a nude, mentally disabled woman, taunting her to pose in a lewd manner with his baton.
Instead of punishing Arevalos or reporting the incident up the chain of command, the lawsuit claims his superiors instead destroyed the pictures and evidence of the incident and intimidated the officer who had reported it.
The lawsuit says the alleged cover-up is part of a “long-standing, unwritten SDPD policy that encouraged a two-tiered system of justice.”
That system includes laws that apply to ordinary citizens and a set of privileges and immunities that apply to SDPD officers and other members of the law enforcement community, according to the suit.
Additionally, the SDPD is accused of instituting a process that prevented the public from lodging complaints against officers directly with the internal affairs unit.
Despite Lansdowne’s promises for reform directly after Arevalos’ conviction, the suit says things remained unchanged at the SDPD.
Gilleon said that compared to Arevalos, Hays was more of a sexual predator. The lawsuit claims Hays went through the police academy and a field training officer determined he "was unfit to be a SDPD police officer and he should be 'washed out' and not hired."
Still, Hays went on to join the department. Hays’ father-in-law is SDPD Captain and now Assistant Chief Mark Jones. Gilleon claims Jones made sure Hays passed the academy by getting “a favor from the person in charge.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the city, though the attorney for the alleged victims says two of his clients’ claims are worth more than $1 million.
In response to NBC 7’s request for comment, SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer released the following statement:
"It would be inappropriate for me to provide comments as there is pending civil litigation and a federal investigation. In addition, PERF is conducting an independent review of the Department as previously discussed at a press conference by Chief Zimmerman.”
NBC 7 has reached out to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the FBI to see if there iss any new information on their independent investigations into the department. Calls have not been returned.
Citizen cites roughing-up outside bar, intimidation
Leonard F. Jacuzzo is convinced that when Buffalo police would moonlight as bar security, they served the bar, not the community. He learned this the hard way about a year ago and wishes now that he had complained loudly and publicly.
Jacuzzo says that if he had raised a ruckus, maybe the State Liquor Authority would have spoken up at the time to tell the Buffalo Police Department it was violating state law by allowing its sworn officers to work off-duty for bar owners. Maybe Buffalo would have banned the practice in 2013.
Then, Jacuzzo wonders, would a bar manager in University Heights still have shoved a patron down a flight of stairs on Mother’s Day 2014?
Would William C. Sager Jr.’s attacker have been so bold without his own force of two off-duty cops there to back him up?
“The saddest part of this whole thing, for me, is that I did not successfully pursue justice in my case,” said Jacuzzo, an adjunct professor who teaches courses in ethics and logic at SUNY Fredonia. “Had I done so, and had the laws regarding police as bouncers come to public attention, the Molly’s incident may not have occurred.”
Days after bar manager Jeffrey J. Basil was charged in that assault in Molly’s Pub, which was witnessed by two off-duty officers working security for the bar, Buffalo Police Commissioner
Jun 13th, 2014 0 Comment
LaPorte FOP Lodge 54 and the LaPorte Police Department have issued separate press releases regarding the case of Mark Bishop, a former LaPorte officer who recently resigned after being charged with embezzling $7,000 from the FOP Lodge.
FOP Lodge 54 statement
“On 04/09/14 LaPorte FOP Lodge 54 President Robert Metcalf discovered a large discrepancy with the lodge’s account. It was found that then-secretary/treasurer, Mark Bishop, had made many unauthorized transactions using FOP monies from the account. President Metcalf immediately notified the lodge officers and started the proper proceedings. After meeting with the FOP board of Trustees, President Metcalf along with the board of trustees met with LaPorte Police Chief Adam Klimczak. Mark Bishop resigned as FOP secretary/treasurer, and later resigned from the LaPorte Police Department. As a membership of police officers it was determined that the moral and ethical thing was to have the matter investigated. With the recommendation of Chief Klimczak the matter was turned over to the Indiana State Police for investigation.
“President Metcalf stated, ‘It is unfortunate that a fellow police officer and FOP member would commit such a selfish and foolish act when considering he is technically stealing from not only his brothers and sisters, but from the community organizations that the FOP donates the money to.’ The FOP membership understands that police officers are held to a higher standard within the community and Mark Bishop was no exception. From this point FOP Lodge 54 is hoping to recoup the embezzled money to be able to forward the monies for disbursement to the organizations and charities that it has had a longstanding relationship with. As for Mark Bishop, he will have to answer for his actions in a court of law.
“Metcalf said, ‘The mission of the FOP is one that not only promotes and fosters the enforcement of law and order, but to encourage, educate, charitable and social activities within the respective communities they serve. It is important for the community to understand that the actions of one police officer do not reflect those of others who put their life on the line to serve and protect every day, and the FOP is committed to maintaining the high level of standards in which to do so.’ ”
LaPorte Police chief statement
“On 4/14/14 Chief Adam Klimczak met with FOP President Robert Metcalf and the FOP Board of Trustees in regards to an alleged theft by a lodge member that they had discovered. The FOP Leadership reported that Mark Bishop had been using the FOP funds for personal reasons and that several thousand dollars was unaccounted for. After this meeting Chief Klimczak met with Officer Mark Bishop, who resigned his position with the LaPorte City Police Department. Chief Klimczak ordered the criminal investigation of this matter turned over to the Indiana State Police.
“Chief Klimczak stated, ‘’In cases where criminal activity by a member of this agency is alleged, it is standard operating procedure to turn that investigation over to the Indiana State Police. This allows total transparency throughout the investigative process and allows for a complete investigation from an outside agency. The department as a whole was very disappointed in the decisions made by one of our own. It is our hope that the outcome of this unfortunate incident will serve as a reminder that no one is above the laws that the members of this department have sworn to enforce.’ ”
LAPORTE, Indiana — A former LaPorte police officer who was treasurer/secretary of the local fraternal order of police is due in court Wednesday for an initial hearing on charges he stole $7,462.
The LaPorte County Herald-Argus reports (http://bit.ly/1jsL5ph ) 32-year-old Mark Bishop is charged with theft. He could not be reached for comment because there was no telephone listing for him. Bishop resigned from the police department on April 15.
State police allege he used the money for Chicago Cubs tickets, at a Kokomo strip club, casinos and hotels. In resigning as FOP treasurer/secretary Bishop admitted to using its bank card for personal use and said he intends to repay the money.
Testimony Ends In Suspended Police Officer's Hearing
Testimony is over in the administrative hearing for suspended Gouverneur Police Officer Steve Young, who the village accused of stealing gas from village pumps.
Young again took the stand in his own defense before being questioned by Village Attorney Henry Leader Tuesday.
Young was allowed to get free gas from the village gas tank as chief of the fire department under contract with the village.
The village claims Young used a different key than the one given to the fire department to get his gas and charged with official misconduct among other things.
Both sides have until July 31 to submit written closing statements to hearing officer Marlinda LaValley, who will then review the evidence and render a decision on whether Young should be reinstated or not.
Young remains suspended with pay.
New York City has agreed to pay members of the so-called Occupy movement more than half a million dollars for false arrest over demonstrations.
New York City has agreed to pay members of the so-called Occupy movement more than half a million dollars for false arrest over demonstrations back in 2011 and '12.
The payout is the largest so far in a series of payments for police misdeeds during the protests in Manhattan's financial district against social and economic inequality.
By Chris Glorioso
Police brutality cases and false arrest lawsuits make headlines, but an investigation by WNYC Radio found that New Jersey police officers are more likely than the citizens they police to bring civil litigation against their departments.
The analysis of litigation between 2009 and 2012 found that 148 settlements between New Jersey police officers against their departments cost taxpayers $29 million. That is 45 percent more than the $20 million paid in settlements and legal fees associated with 117 lawsuits filed by civilians.
“It has become such a ping-pong of litigation," said Antonio Hernandez, the president of the National Coalition of Latino Officers. "I’ve seen lieutenants suing lieutenants, captains suing captains. Chiefs being sued by everyone.”
Hernandez said the problem is that New Jersey police departments often have politically appointed chiefs who sometimes play favorites -- and sometimes have bitter feuds with cops they dislike.
In her radio report, WNYC reporter Sally Herships tells the story of a $165,000 settlement paid by the Camden Police Department after a 20-year veteran cop accused her bosses of planting drugs in her police car.
Like most cop-on-cop lawsuits, the facts in the Camden case are disputed. Camden’s former chief denies any knowledge of how the cocaine made it into the vehicle. The case was settled without an admission of wrongdoing by both parties.
Regardless of whether there is merit to a case, Herships found lawsuits filed by officers often spawn appeals and counter-suits that become money pits for taxpayer dollars.
Mitchell Sklar, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, said it shouldn't be a surprise that lots of police officers sue their departments. Lots of employees in every industry sue their employers.
"I think it is a trend in society. I don’t think it is specific to law enforcement, " Sklar said.
Sklar noted that in New Jersey, county prosecutors have oversight of police departments and can investigate when cops have serious complaints against their chiefs.
But critics, such as Hernandez, say prosecutors too often side with police brass, leaving jilted cops with no other option than suing in court.
Hernandez also said internal affairs units are generally controlled by police chiefs so they are considered biased by many rank-and-file officers.
“There is currently no system in place where an officer can file a complaint against his police chief, if the police chief is the issue -- and he’s controlling internal affairs,” Hernandez said.
By Ed Gallek
The deadly police chase happened in 2012 but the investigation continues.
Lawyers for Michael Brelo, the Cleveland police officer charged with manslaughter after a chase turned deadly, want a gag order on the Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
The lawyers filed a motion writing they are unhappy with the prosecutor discussing the case in public, and they disagree with his portrayal of the facts. They are concerned about a "fair trial."
Also, lawyers for two police supervisors charged with dereliction of duty have filed papers demanding jury trials and the evidence to be used in the case.
It all revolves around a long police chase in November 2012 that ended with 13 Cleveland police officers firing 137 shots and killing two suspects.
BENSON, N.C. — A former police officer was arrested Saturday after police say he robbed a bank in Benson.
According to police, Gregory Corbett walked into the First Federal Bank Thursday, displayed a gun, and demanded money.
Corbett was changed with robbery and kidnapping, according to police. He was placed in the Johnston County jail under a $500,000 bond.
Corbett is a former local law enforcement officer, and he was previously charged with a bank robbery in the mid 1990’s.
Officer suspended after gun incident
WYALUSING - A Laceyville police officer who tried to sell a semi-automatic rifle out of his patrol car while on duty has been suspended without pay and could lose his job, the borough's mayor said.
Officer Matt Chamberlain pulled the weapon from the trunk of his cruiser at a gas station Thursday morning in Wyalusing, which is also covered by the Laceyville Police Department, Mayor Phillip Brewer said.
The gas station also happened to be across the street from the Rocket-Courier newspaper, which snapped photos and sent them to borough officials.
While Officer Chamberlain may not have broken any laws, he violated borough policy and its ethics code, Mayor Brewer said.
The borough council met Friday night to decide the fate of the officer, who has worked for the department for approximately two years.
The supervisor of a former Metro officer accused of showing up to work drunk on Friday night was given a 15-day suspension by Metro Police.
Sgt. Terrence Bradley was one of three officers initially decommissioned after Officer Nathan Silvers was charged with driving and possessing a firearm under the influence hours after the officer had recorded blood-alcohol levels three times the legal limit.
Of the three personnel, Bradley is the only officer to not resign or retire after the incident.
When Silvers arrived at the South Precinct, Bradley, his supervisor, smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed bloodshot, watery eyes, according to a release from the Metro Nashville Police Department. After Silvers said he had consumed six longneck beers the afternoon before his shift started, police said, Bradley disarmed Silvers and notified Capt. Ken Dyer, who was the overnight field supervisor at the time.
Police said that Silvers was directed to take two “reasonable suspicion” breath alcohol tests while he was at the South Precinct. Silvers allegedly had blood-alcohol content levels of .31 and .25 — both three times the legal limit in Tennessee.
After the tests, the decision was made to decommission Silvers and have him driven to his Hendersonville home without being arrested. Chief Steve Anderson was not informed about the decision, police said, and immediately ordered an investigation into the matter when he was told hours later.
On Monday, Silver submitted his resignation effective at the end of his 30-day suspension, while Dyer announced his retirement after the end of his 30-day suspension.
Cop charged with DUI
By Tom Flannery,
HONESDALE - A former Carbondale patrolman, who is currently with the Honesdale police force, was arrested last week for suspicion of DUI.
This is the third time David Matthew Clark, 40, of Lake Ariel, has been arrested over the past several years while working as a police officer.
Carbondale Police Captain Brian Bognatz told The Carbondale News that the latest incident took place at 1:20 a.m. on Wednesday, June 11, when Clark was driving down Salem Mountain in a 2006 Hyundai and struck three parked vehicles.
“It was a four-car crash and three of them were totaled,” Bognatz related.
“We believe that two of the parked vehicles were totaled, as was the car that Mr. Clark was driving.”
He said Carbondale police officers arrived at the scene and took Clark into custody for suspicion of DUI.
“Charges were filed the very next day,” Bognatz noted.
Clark has been charged with suspicion of drunk driving as well as with reckless driving.
Bognatz pointed out that this is Clark’s third arrest in the past eight years, which includes a previous DUI charge.
The first incident occurred at about 2 a.m. on July 30, 2006, when Clark was employed as a patrolmen with the Carbondale Police Department.
On the night in question, he was attending a bachelor party for Patrolman Kyle Miller while the two officers were off-duty.
They ended up beating a 73-year-old Simpson man in front of the Belmont Hotel on Belmont Street over a minor traffic accident, after which both officers were suspended from the force.
Just over a year later, the two were terminated.
“Mr. Clark was involved in beating up a very elderly gentleman in that case,” Bognatz recalled.
Honesdale Borough Police Chief Rick Southerton said Clark has been suspended.
“He's not on the schedule and isn't working,” he said. “He won't return until we find out the outcome or whether or not he's convicted.”
Southerton said that from what he understands, Clark refused to have blood drawn, which is a mandatory loss of his driver's license for a year.
“If he's convicted, I find it hard to believe the Municipal Police Officer Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) would let him keep his certification,” he stated. “If he loses that, he can't get hired anywhere.”
If Clark is convicted he could face further disciplinary action that could include termination.
police officer arrested for OWI
A part-time police officer in Lake Hallie has pleaded not guilty to citations for OWI first offense and refusing a test for intoxication in Chippewa Falls on Tuesday, June 17.
Luke R. Gehweiler, 34, 18685 52nd Ave., entered the not guilty pleas Friday in Chippewa County Court.
Gary Spilde, chairman of the Lake Hallie Police Commission, on Friday said he believed Chief Cal Smokowicz has suspended Gehweiler.
“He was waiting for what the report (by Chippewa Falls Police) has to say,” Spilde said of an email he received from Smokowicz regarding the issue.
Smokowicz can suspend an officer. The matter then goes to the village’s Police Commission, which decides if further action is needed.
Lake Hallie officers are represented by the Wisconsin Police Professionals Association, Spilde said.
Smokowicz wasn’t available for comment on Friday. Chippewa Falls Police were not available to provide details of the citations.
A refusal to submit to an intoxication test can result in an automatic revocation of a driver’s license, unless the accused schedules a hearing within a set time. Gehweiler has requested that hearing.
Gehweiler’s initial appearance in Chippewa County Court before Judge Roderick Cameron is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 22.
Pascagoula police officer will serve one year in jail in teen's death
By MARGARET BAKER
PASCAGOULA -- Pascagoula police officer Daniel Snyder was sentenced Friday to six years in prison, with five years suspended and one year to serve for leaving the scene of an accident that left an Ocean Springs teen dead.
In addition, Circuit Judge Dale Harkey ordered Snyder to pay $2,000 in fines, courts courts and burial expenses to the family of 16-year-old Kaytlynn Brann, who died a a day after the Feb. 22, 2013, accident. He will also undergo an evaluation for alcohol abuse.
"I've seldom seen a more tragic or more heartbreaking case," Harkey said. "Nothing but fate brought you two together and it's ruined two lives."
Harkey expressed sympathy for the victim's family and told Snyder that he, as a law enforcement officer, should have known better than to drink and drive. He said nothing could explain his decision to leave the scene other than him trying to hide the fact that he had been drinking and driving.
"You were seeking to minimize what you had done," Harkey said.
Prior to sentencing, District Attorney Tony Lawrence asked for jail time for Snyder, noting he was veteran law enforcement officer who knew better than to flee the scene of any accident.
"Everyone has to be held accountable for the choices they make," Lawrence said. "He chose to drink, he chose to drive and he chose to leave the scene."
Kaytlynn's father, Keith Brann, said he never understood why Snyder wasn't arrested on a more serious DUI-related offense.
"The one thing I wanted in this case was for Mr. Snyder to never be a police officer again," he said. "This conviction takes care of that. Since the accident, he has spent one night in jail. One night. I have spent a year without my daughter."
A jury convicted Snyder in May but he was released on bond pending sentencing in the case.
Snyder had consumed several beers at his home in the hours leading up to the accident in which his pickup truck struck Kaytlynn on Port Aux Chenes Road in Gulf Park Estates.
Snyder was off-duty and on personal leave at the time to attend a family member's funeral.
A blood test taken at 11:45 p.m. showed Snyder had a blood-alcohol level of .06, State law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or above. Snyder was not arrested on a drunken driving offense in the case.
Several witnesses said Snyder stopped initially, but left the scene for up to 15 minutes before he returned. Snyder was also heard saying he should have "done like everybody else in Mississippi and just left the scene."
Other witnesses said Snyder appeared to be in shock at the scene.
Snyder twice dialed 911 to report that a person had been struck, but did not identify himself.
Snyder was not cited for causing the accident. Instead, a deputy investigating the case said Brann was at fault because she was walking in the road when the accident occurred. The road has no sidewalks.
Snyder left the scene after the accident and initially denied drinking alcohol prior to the crash to sheriff's deputies. Deputies later found a Budlight beer cap in the console of his truck.
Several Pascagoula police officers also spoke on Snyder's behalf Friday, noting he was good man who would offer help to others and often went out of his way to help children in need.
Metro Sergeant Suspended For Failure To Arrest Drunk Officer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Metropolitan Nashville Police sergeant has been suspended without pay after his part in a decision to drive another officer home when he turned up drunk at work, instead of making an immediate arrest.
Officials said South Precinct Sergeant Terrence Bradley was given a 15-day suspension without pay.
The officer who admitted to drinking and two of his supervisors were decommissioned because of the incident.
Police said 33-year-old Officer Nathan Silvers reported to work in his personal vehicle at 10:45 p.m. Friday night for his midnight shift. He was supposed to arrive at work by 10:30 p.m. but reportedly called and said he would be late.
When he arrived, Sergeant Bradley noticed the smelled of alcohol, and that Silvers' eyes were bloodshot and watery. Bradley disarmed Silvers and relieved him from duty.
Two breath alcohol tests were administered. Officials said the first test came back with a 0.31 percent blood alcohol result. The second test showed 0.25 percent. Both results were much higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Silvers apparently admitted to drinking six longneck bottles of beer between 4 and 7 p.m. before reporting for duty.
Officials said Bradley consulted with Field Supervising Captain Kenny Dyer regarding the incident. They decommissioned Silvers and drove him to his Hendersonville home with the understanding that he was to report to police headquarters Monday morning.
Chief Steve Anderson and the deputy chiefs were not made aware of that decision. Once Chief Anderson learned of the incident early Saturday, he ordered a criminal investigation into the incident to be conducted by the DUI Unit.
Both Dyer and Bradley were immediately decommissioned.
Silvers was then charged with driving under the influence, unlawful gun possession while under the influence of alcohol, and violation of the implied consent law for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test.
He submitted his resignation Monday, which will be effective following a 30-day suspension.
Captain Dyer submitted his notice of retirement Monday, which will also be effective following a 30-day suspension.
The disciplinary action against Bradley was issued Tuesday afternoon.
Silvers had just graduated from the police academy in April. Dyer, a 26-year Metro Police veteran, had been promoted to captain on March 1.
Officials said Bradley has been with the police department for 14 years.
Opa-Locka Officer Charged with DUI After Crash
Lieutenant Edward Law was arrested Friday night after he rear-ended a car with his
n Opa-Locka police lieutenant is facing drunken driving charges after crashing into another vehicle.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Lieutenant Edward Law was arrested Friday night after he rear-ended a car with his unmarked police vehicle in the Golden Glades interchange.
The officer who responded to the scene said Lt. Law's speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and there was an odor of alcohol. FHP said he failed the field sobriety test and refused to submit to a breath test.
Troopers placed Lt. Law under arrest for DUI and transported him to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. He is facing careless driving and DUI with property damage charges.
There were no injuries reported in the crash. It is unclear if Lt. Law currently has an attorney.
Suspended Midland Park cop trying to regain his job
BY EMILY MASTERS
MIDLAND PARK - A borough police officer who was suspended after he crashed an all-terrain vehicle on a Wyckoff street and was charged with driving while intoxicated is trying to be reinstated to his patrol duties.
Officer Joseph B. Gaeta pleaded guilty to driving an all-terrain vehicle down Godwin Avenue while intoxicated in 2011 and was suspended without pay.
Gaeta’s attorney, Joseph P. Rem, said his client is challenging the suspension on the grounds that it was too harsh.
“His position is that the offense did not warrant the drastic remedy,” said Rem.
A hearing last week began the appeal process, which is expected to continue for several weeks before a hearing officer makes a decision in August. At that point, the Midland Park Council can vote on the reinstatement. Gaeta or the Police Department can appeal the hearing officer’s recommendation.
Gaeta was arrested a few hours after he had participated in DWI enforcement training at the Bergen County Police Academy on Dec. 15, 2011. He drank alcohol at the training as part of an exercise that allowed other officers to perform sobriety tests on him. While off duty a few hours later, Gaeta drove his all-terrain vehicle down Godwin Avenue in Wyckoff. He overturned and crashed the ATV when he turned onto Greenhaven Road. His blood alcohol content was measured as 0.135 percent, Rem said. The state limit for driving is 0.08.
After the 2011 incident, the Wyckoff police investigated the case and issued summons, which included a DWI charge. Gaeta was fined $306 and court costs, his driver’s license was suspended and he was sentenced to participate in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center’s driver safety program. On appeal he argued that because he was driving an ATV, the maximum sentence he could receive was a $200 fine under state law. He won the appeal and was resentenced to lesser charges and a $150 fine in July 2013.
“Until the officer had his full day in court on his DWI appeal, [Midland Park] agreed to hold any disciplinary charges in abeyance,” said Borough Attorney Raymond Wiss.
Gaeta was injured in the accident and was on paid medical leave from the police force for four-and-a-half months. During that time, Detective Sgt. John Gibbons, the department’s internal affairs officer, investigated the incident to see if Gaeta had violated department rules and regulations. Gibbons made a disciplinary recommendation to acting Chief John Casson that he suspend Gaeta without pay. In 2012, Casson retired and Michael Marra, as the new chief, upheld the disciplinary action, said Wiss.
“An officer is allowed to request a hearing to contest charges that are factually or legally erroneous or recommend that the discipline is too harsh,” Wiss said. Gaeta “focuses on the latter,” Wiss said.
The hearing officer, Matthew S. Mahoney, was selected because he has legal experience as a captain in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as a special assistant U.S. attorney, said Wiss.
Mayor Patrick O’Hagan said that because Gaeta is the son of late Superior Court Judge Bruce A. Gaeta, the borough wanted “someone unbiased.”
At the closed-session hearing, Marra and Gibbons “testified for the disciplinary actions they took against Gaeta,” said Wiss. They were cross-examined by Rem, who did not call witnesses.
“An officer is allowed to request a hearing to contest charges that are factually or legally erroneous or recommend that the discipline is too harsh,” Wiss said. Gaeta “focuses on the latter,” Wiss said.
Marra said he had “no comment.” Gaeta did not respond to requests for comment and Rem declined to have his client comment.
Cop arrested for second DUI
BY PETER CAMERON
A police officer who works for departments in Jessup and Honesdale was arrested after officers said he crashed into several parked cars in Carbondale last week.
Officer David Matthew Clark refused to submit to a blood test, according to officers, and was charged with DUI and reckless driving.
At the scene of the wreck Friday on Wayne Street, officers asked if he had been drinking. Officer Clark responded “Yes, I’m abliviated (sic),” according to the report.
Officer Clark, 40, 145 Father John Drive, Lake Ariel, was charged with DUI in 2009, when his blood-alcohol content tested at 0.16 percent.
He previously worked for the Carbondale Police Department but was fired in 2007 after he assaulted a 73-year-old man. Charges from that incident were expunged when he completed the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, commonly called ARD.
On Wednesday, he directed questions to his attorney, Bernard Brown.
“We’re just asking that, at this time, the community reserves their judgment until they get all the facts,” Mr. Brown said.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 10. The conditions of his bail were not available Wednesday.
The police officer has not been suspended from his part-time job at either department, but the chiefs said he has been removed from both schedules.
A guilty verdict for the DUI will likely result in Mr. Clark losing his job, at least in Honesdale.
“If he did what they say he did and he gets convicted of it, then we probably will let him go,” Honesdale Police Chief Richard Southerton said. “But I think it’s only fair to give the system a chance to work.”
Jessup Police Chief Joseph Walsh had a similar stance.
“Until the case is adjudicated, I can’t say that he is or is not guilty
Detective arrested on DUII charge
The Springfield investigator has been placed on leave following the incident
By Jeff Wright
SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield Police Department detective has been placed on paid administrative leave after being charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants and resisting arrest following a weekend incident in Eugene.
Marco Espinoza, 29, also was charged with interfering with a police officer.
Springfield Police Chief Tim Doney confirmed Monday night that Espinoza has been placed on leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation to determine if he has violated any department policies.
Doney said the department expects a high standard of behavior from its employees, while also recognizing that human beings sometimes make mistakes. He said the department treats drunken-driving allegations as a serious matter.
“If the allegations are proven true, we’re disappointed,” Doney said.
Espinoza’s arrest occurred after a Eugene police officer witnessed a man and woman arguing outside a car near Chambers Street and Roosevelt Boulevard shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday, Eugene police spokesman John Hankemeier said Monday.
After making contact with the man, later identified as Espinoza, officers felt they had probable cause to believe he had been drinking and driving, Hankemeier said. But when an officer attempted to take Espinoza into custody, he allegedly became verbally aggressive and resisted arrest, Hankemeier said.
Espinoza’s vehicle was off to the side but partially blocking the roadway, police said. There were no reports of injury to Espinoza or others.
Espinoza was lodged in the Lane County Jail around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He was released shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday, jail records show.
Doney said a Springfield police sergeant went to the jail Saturday night to inform Espinoza that he had been placed on administrative leave.
Espinoza was hired by Springfield as a police officer in 2008 and later promoted to detective.
Espinoza played a key role in the investigation of the murder of Springfield resident Teresa Sandoval in 2010. A former boyfriend of Sandoval confessed to Espinoza that he had killed Sandoval, at one point conducting a re-enactment of the murder, according to a probable cause affidavit written by another detective.
Register-Guard reporter Christian Hill contributed to this report.