Thursday, February 21, 2013

Internal Affairs Complaint against Hackettstown Police Sergeant Brian Ficarra determined "not sustained."

On October 19, 2012, I filed an Internal Affairs Complaint against Hackettstown (Warren County) Police Sergeant Brian Ficarra based on the Appellate Division’s August 7, 2009 unpublished decision in State v. Richard Sabatino, Docket No. A-0565-09T4)

According to the court's decision, Sergeant (then Patrolman) Ficarra stopped a vehicle in which Sabatino was a passenger.  The vehicle was being driven by a friend who was driving Sabatino home.  Ficarra observed Sabatino, who was allegedly staggering due to being intoxicated, jaywalk across Route 46 to get to the vehicle.  According to the decision, Ficarro, after stopping the vehicle, arrested Sabatino for "disorderly conduct, being under the influence" and took him to local hospital where he searched him and found two bags of suspected heroin.

The Appellate Division found that Ficcara did not have probable cause to arrest Sabatino and that the bags of heroin needed to be "suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree."  The court also found that Ficcara was not authorized to arrest Sabatino for not wearing a seat belt or for jaywalking. 

Particularly disturbing is Ficcara's excuse for not issuing Sabatino summonses for jaywalking and not wearing a seatbelt, as opposed to arresting him.  According the the opinion, Ficcara testified that he didn't have a summons book with him.  As noted in a footnote at page 16 of the opinion, Ficcara "could have taken defendant's address and identifying information and mailed a summons after [he] retrieved a summons form."

Today, I received an undated letter from Police Chief James A. Macaulay advising me that the Internal Affairs investigation "failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clear prove or disprove the allegation."

According to Macaulay, Ficarro "was performing his job reasonably and in good faith."  Accordingly, his"actions were determined to be in compliance with departmental policies, procedures, rules and regulations."
                       
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875-5424
Phone: 732-873-1251 - Fax: 908-325-0129
Email: paff@pobox.com