I’ve said it here before. As a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer, I have little patience for any malfeasance on the part of law enforcement officers or members of the prosecutor’s office when it comes to upholding the laws that they are responsible for enforcing. Every individual accused of drunk driving or other alcohol-related offense should be treated equally without favor or discrimination. A recent news story about a couple police officers from the Randolph Township police department brought this to mind.
According to reports, former officers Shawn Boyhan and Stephen J. Kepler appeared in a Morristown courtroom on October 19 having been accused of destroying, concealing or altering official records. The two were forced to give up their jobs with the township, put on probation for one year and ordered to perform community service for trying to cover up the drunk-driving arrest of a fellow officer’s relative.
The 31-year-old Boyhan entered a conditional guilty plea, saying that after he stopped a motorist on August 21 he learned the driver was related to another Randolph police officer. Boyhan said he spoke with Kepler, 49, and decided to “unarrest” the motorist and let him go. No breath tests were conducted and no paperwork filled out.
According to new reports, Boyhan then asked an officer serving as dispatcher to remove the record of the DWI arrest from a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) record.
Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan accepted Boyhan into Morris County’s Pre-Trial Intervention program (PTI), placed him on probation for one year and ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service. Boyhan had to resign from Randolph and can never work a law enforcement job in Morris County again. But he may, after PTI is done, apply for a police job outside the county. Based on Boyhan’s conditional guilty plea, if could face up to 18 months in prison if he violates his probation.
Kepler, who has been on Randolph’s force for 25 years will be allowed to retire and cannot hold a law enforcement job in the county again. He also was accepted into PTI but, unlike Boyhan, was not required to admit any wrongdoing. He was put on probation for one year and ordered to complete 75 hours of community service.
Kepler’s pension attorney said he expects the now-ex-officer to collect his full pension, since the offense occurred after he accrued at least 25 years in the system.
It should be obvious that police officers have an obligation to treat all offenders that same regardless of the suspect’s relationship to another officer. They also know that altering and manipulating official records to cover up any fact is wrong and constitutes a violation of law as well as ethical police practices.
DWI cover-up costs 2 Randolph cops jobs, DailyRecord.com, October 20, 2009