Monday, October 13, 2014

Roselle Park's improper handling of an Internal Affairs Complaint

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875

October 13, 2014

Grace H. Park, Acting Prosecutor
Union County Prosecutor's Office
32 Rahway Avenue
Elizabeth, NJ 07202
via e-mail only to ucpo@ucnj.org

Dear Acting Prosecutor Park:

On October 1, 2014, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project filed an Internal Affairs complaint with the Roselle Park Police Department.  A copy of that complaint is on-line on our blog here.

Today, we received the following e-mail response to our complaint from Lieutenant Manuel Jimenez:
Re: Szabo v. RP settlement
The Roselle Park Police department is cognizant of the responsibilities it has in addressing any improper / inappropriate actions or procedures used by its police personnel.  The Roselle Park Police Department, and the Union County Prosecutor's Office are aware of the incident involving Mr. Szabo and pursuant to the NJ Attorney General Guidelines on Internal Affairs Policy and Procedures, the Roselle Park Police Department cannot disclose any further information.

Thank You,

Manuel Jimenez, Lieutenant
Roselle Park Police Department
110 E. Westfield Ave.
Roselle Park, NJ 07204
908-245-2300 ext. 2601
908-245-2311
The thrust of Jimenez's response is: "We know about the matter of which you complain.  We're working on it and won't tell you anything about it either now or in the future."  We don't believe that this response is consistent with the Attorney General's guidelines that Jiminez cites in his e-mail.

According to Page 4 of the Guidelines, on-line here, one of the "policy requirements that the Attorney has determined are critical and must be implemented by every law enforcement agency" includes a requirement that "[e]ach agency must thoroughly and objectively investigate all allegations against its officers" and "must notify complainants of the outcome of their complaint."

We believe that we are a bona fide complainant by virtue of the fact that we filed an Internal Affairs complaint.  We believe that our status as a complainant is not lessened or eliminated by the police department's apparent, previous awareness of the matter that is the subject of our complaint.

Accordingly, we believe that the Roselle Park Police Department is obliged to follow the guidelines regarding our complaint.  This includes conducting a thorough investigation and notifying us of the results of that investigation.

Please advise us of what you are going to do to help us with this matter.

Very truly yours,

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
E-mail: paff@pobox.com

cc. Hon. Joseph Accardi and Borough Council, via e-mail to the Clerk
Chief Paul Morrison, pmorrison@rosellepark.net
Lieutenant Manuel Jimenez, MJIMENEZ@rosellepark.net

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IA Complaint against Roselle Park Police Officers

Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875

October 1, 2014

Paul Morrison, Chief
Roselle Park Police Department
110 East Westfield Avenue
Roselle Park, NJ 07204
via e-mail only to pmorrison@rosellepark.net

Dear Chief Morrison:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this e-mail as our Internal Affairs complaint.  I am forwarding this complaint to you, as Chief of Police, because there is nothing on your web site identifying the person within your Department to whom an Internal Affairs complaint should be directed.

We would like your agency to investigate whether Officers Alexander Lanza, Gregory Polakoski, Vathianakis Kostantinos, Peter Picarelli and Michael Bell (as well as any other officers and personnel employed by your agency) acted in accordance with department policy and the law regarding a December 9, 2012 search of 27 W Roselle Avenue, Apt D.

According to the notice of claim filed by the recipients of a $35,000 settlement (on-line here), the officers lied to the occupants by telling them that they had a search warrant when they actually did not. This alleged lie caused the occupants to allow the officers entry that had previously been denied to them.  The claim notices allege that the lie is captured by an audio/video recording of the event.

We ask that you investigate and determine whether these officers lied about a warrant or otherwise conducted an illegal search of the residence.  If you find that an illegal search was conducted or that a lie was told despite these officers having received adequate training and direction regarding searches, we ask that you discipline them.  If the claims' allegations are true and your officers were not adequately trained regarding searches, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.  Of course, if the claims's allegations are untrue, we ask that you please notify us that this complaint is unfounded.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

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
E-mail: paff@pobox.com

--Subsequent action

10/13/14 - We complained to Prosecutor about handling of the complaint. Click here.