Thursday, June 27, 2013

Letter to Neptune Township Committeewoman regarding Police IA exoneration

June 27, 2013

Mary Beth Jahn, Committeewoman
Township of Neptune
25 Neptune Blvd
Neptune, NJ  (via e-mail to mjahn@neptunetownship.org)

RE: Neptune Police Department Internal Affairs Procedure

Dear Committeewoman Jahn:

I invite your attention to our blog entry entitled "CLOSED: Internal Affairs Complaint - Neptune Township" which is on-line here.

As you will see, the blog post contains our Internal Affairs Complaint against Neptune Police Lieutenant Robert Mangold with a link to the Internal Affairs Unit's June 24, 2013 letter which exonerated Mangold. From a careful reading of the complaint, the court opinion upon which our complaint was based and the IA Unit's response, it appears that: a) Mangold directed a subordinate officer to conduct a warrantless strip-search of an arrestee; b) two courts, finding that the strip-search was illegal, suppressed the evidence that was the fruit of the search and c) neither Mangold's nor the subordinate officer's actions violated any departmental rules, procedures or other standard.

While we appreciate the Police Department's responsiveness to our complaint, we can't help but be concerned that these officers could violate the constitution and N.J.S.A. 2A:161A-1 without running afoul of any departmental rules and regulations.  This would suggest that police rules and regulations regarding warrantless searches would benefit from an immediate, top-to-bottom review and that provision be made for periodic reviews in the future.

I write to you individually, so that I have a single point of contact with the Neptune Township Committee and I ask that you please correspond with me on this issue.  If you view the other cases in our blog, you will see that Neptune's is not the only police department where violating a citizen's constitutional rights doesn't also violate a departmental policy.  We believe that police departmental rules and regulations ought to consider any violation of the constitutional rights of a citizen as a per se offense.

I have copied Township Clerk Richard Cuttrell on this correspondence both to keep him abreast of it and to submit the following OPRA request.
    Please accept this e-mail as my request for government records in accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access.  Please respond and send all responsive documents to me via e-mail at paff@pobox.com.  If e-mail is not possible, please fax responses and responsive records to me at 908-325-0129.  Also, I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge your receipt of this e-mail.

    Records Requested:

    1. All policies police rules, regulations, standing operating procedures, directives or training that govern consent searches of motor vehicles, as those documents existed as of October 8, 2011, the date that Daniel Dolan was strip-searched. (I refer to the records that the Internal Affairs Unit reviewed when it determined that the Neptune officers did not commit any violation.)

    2. The same records requested in #1 above, as they exist today, to the extent that they are different.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Police Accountability Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Phone: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129
E-mail paff@pobox.com

cc. Richard Cuttrell
via e-mail to rcuttrell@neptunetownship.org

--Subsequent action

07/09/13 - Township responded to OPRA request. Click here for response and departmental policies.