Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Internal Affairs Complaint - Neptune Township

July 26, 2017

Internal Affairs Unit
Neptune Township Police Department
25 Neptune Blvd.
Neptune, NJ 07753      
(via fax only to 732-774-0982 )

RE:  Officer Aaron Lay

Dear Sir or Madam:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as an Internal Affairs complaint.  Note that this is the second complaint we have filed regarding a warrantless strip search.  Our first complaint was filed on March 18, 2013 and reported that Lieutenant Robert Mangold had conducted a warrantless strip search that resulted in two glassine bags of heroin being suppressed by the court.  Notwithstanding the court's finding, your Internal Affairs Unit exonerated Mangold after finding that he "followed the appropriate department policies and procedures." 

Our current complaint is based on the Appellate Division's July 26, 2017 reversal of a conviction in State v. Asim Q. Jules.  The court found that Officer Lay, with his shift commander's permission, conducted a warrantless strip search on September 29, 2014 and found  a"translucent orange prescription pill bottle clenched between [Defendant's] legs."  The bottle contained eight alprazolam tablets.

The Appellate Division panel found that the strip search was not justified absent a warrant or the defendant's consent.  Since your department had neither a warrant nor consent, the court concluded that "the police did not act reasonably in this matter" and ordered that the judgment of conviction be reversed.

It seems to us that Lay, the shift commander and other officers, given the reversal that arose our of Mangold's improper strip search, should have known better than to engage in this warrantless strip search.  Accordingly, we ask that you investigate Lay, the shift commander and other officers and take appropriate disciplinary action against them.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,
                      
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Phone: 732-873-1251 - Fax: 732-862-4449
Email: paff@pobox.com

--Subsequent action

08/02/17 - Complaint acknowledged. Click here.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Internal Affairs Complaint against Jersey City Police

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party

April 27, 2017

Jersey City Police Department, IA Unit
1 Journal Square Plaza – 4th Floor
Jersey City, NJ  07306            (Via Fax to 201-547-5512)

Dear Sir or Madam:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint.  We would like your agency to investigate whether Jersey City Officers Greg Wojtowicz, Carlos Lugo and other officers employed by your agency acted in accordance with department policy and the law regarding a warrantless search of  minivan containing 500 glassine bags of heroin.

According to Judge Sheila A. Venable's June 28, 2016 written decision, which was affirmed by the Appellate Division on April 27, 2017 in State v. Lamont Tiller and Rasheem Davis, Docket No. A-0137-16T1, the officers improperly entered the van after seeing the heroin inside.  Judge Venable ruled, and the Appellate Division agreed, that the "plain view doctrine" did not legitimize the search because the officers were already aware that the minivan contained heroin.  Judge Venable noted that "police relied on the plain view doctrine only in pretense." The court ruled that the 500 glassine bags of heroin found as a result of the search could not be used as evidence against the defendants.

If your officers, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding motor vehicle searches elected to ignore their training, we ask that you discipline them. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: paff@pobox.com

---------------------

Subsequent action:

08/15/17: Called IA Unit and learned that complaint was received, was assigned to Sgt. Jackson and given docket number IAU 2017-046.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Internal Affairs complaint against Salem City Sergeant Melvin Vanaman

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party
April 6, 2017

Lieutenant Christopher Pew
Internal Affairs Unit
Salem City Police Department    (Via e-mail to cpew@salemcitypd.com)

Dear Lieutenant Pew:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this ​e-mail as our Internal Affairs complaint.  We would like your agency to investigate Sergeant Melvin Vanaman's December 12, 2013 interaction with James T. Pritchett.

According to an April 6, 2017 Appellate Division opinion (on-line here), Vanaman illegally searched Pritchett and this illegal search required suppression of heroin found on Pritchett's person and reversal of his conviction​ of third-degree possession.​  (Trial Judge Timothy G. Farrell's August 14, 2014 written opinion, which was reversed, is on-line here.)


If Vanaman, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding traffic stops elected to ignore his training, we ask that you discipline him. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: paff@pobox.com

--Subsequent action

04/06/17 - Notified that officer retired. Click here

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Internal Affairs Complaint against Edison Police Officers

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party

March 1, 2017

Sgt. Theodore Hamer
Internal Affairs Unit
Edison Township Police Department
(Via Fax to 732-248-7464)

Dear Sergeant Hamer:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint.  We would like your agency to investigate the actions of Sergeant Michael Mintchwarner and Officers Christian Pedana, Christopher Teleposky and Timothy Farrell regarding an April 30, 2013 warrantless search at the Lexington Inn Hotel.

According to a March 1, 2017 Appellate Division opinion, the warrantless search of Korey Reeves' hotel room "was in violation of the search warrant requirement as unexcused by exigent circumstances."  As a result of the court's finding, 890 bundles of heroin were suppressed and Reeves' conviction for charges arising out the April 30, 2013 event were reversed.

If these officers, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding searches, decided to ignore their training, we ask that you discipline them. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: paff@pobox.com

 --Subsequent action

03/01/17 - Complaint acknowledged. Click here.

Internal Affairs Complaint against Raritan Township Police Officer

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party

March 1, 2017

Lieutenant Al Payne
Internal Affairs Unit
Raritan Township Police Department
2 Municipal Drive
Flemington, NJ 08822            (Via Fax to 908-782-1060)

Dear Lieutenant Payne:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint.  We would like your agency to investigate Officer (now Sergeant) Benedict Donaruma's July 30, 2013 motor vehicle stop of Donna Alessi.

According to a March 1, 2017 Appellate Division opinion, Donaruma's stop of Alessi's vehicle was "an unconstitutional stop and seizure."  The court suppressed the statement that Alessi made to Donaruma after the illegal traffic stop resulting in a reversal of Alessi's conviction and a remand for a new trial.

If Donaruma, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding traffic stops elected to ignore his training, we ask that you discipline him. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: paff@pobox.com

--Subsequent action

03/06/17 - Complaint acknowledged by Raritan Police. Click here.
04/24/17 - Complaint "administratively dismissed." Click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

IA Complaint against Jersey City Police officers

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party

November 29, 2016

Lieutenant Mark Miller
Jersey City Police Department, IA Unit
1 Journal Square Plaza – 4th Floor
Jersey City, NJ  07306            (Via Fax to 201-547-5512)

Dear Lieutenant Miller:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint.  We would like your agency to investigate whether various Jersey City officers and other personnel employed by your agency acted in accordance with department policy and the law regarding a search of an apartment at 314 3rd Street, Jersey City on April 18, 2012.

According to Judge Adam E. Jacobs' August 1, 2013 opinion, which was affirmed by the Appellate Division on November 16, 2016 in State v. Brian Laurenza, Docket No. A-5606-13T4, the officers searched the apartment based on the defendant's wife's consent which was not voluntarily given.  The officers' failure to obtain a search warrant (or knowing and voluntary consent) resulted in the suppression of stolen goods that were found during the search.

If your officers, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding when and to obtain conduct to search a residence elected to ignore their training, we ask that you discipline them. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: paff@pobox.com

-------------------

Subsequent action:  08/15/17: Spoke with Lt. Rotondo who said that he is reviewing the matter and will get back to me.  He said that no IA docket number has yet been assigned.

Monday, May 2, 2016

IA Complaint against Trenton Police employees

New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Police Accountability Project

May 2, 2016

Trenton Police Department
Internal Affairs Unit
Via Fax only to 609-989-4235

Dear Sir or Madam:

We wish to file an Internal Affairs Complaint against the employee(s), whose identities are presently unknown, who are responsible for preparing and releasing the public reports required by "Requirement 10" on p 44 of the Attorney General's Internal Affairs Guideline (last revised July 2014).  As can be seen by the enclosed blog posting and the links contained within it, the most recent of either of those required reports covered the first half of 2012.

We assert that the  failure to prepare these reports for the second half of 2012 through to the present violates the Attorney General's requirements.  We ask that you determine which employees were tasked with the preparation of these reports and impose an appropriate quantum of discipline upon them.

Very truly yours,

John Paff

--Subsequent action

08/15/17 - A follow-up request was sent.  Click here.