As a former municipal prosecutor and New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyer, I certainly respect the law enforcement professionals who ensure the public’s safety on our roadways and everywhere else across the Garden State. And while I praise the efforts of police in bringing criminals to justice, I fully expect those same officers to carry themselves with dignity and honor at all times.
What I cannot abide is when a public servant who is sworn to uphold the laws of our state flaunts those laws or otherwise diminishes his office by breaking the very law he has promised to maintain. Drunk driving is one area of the law in which my office is very experienced. Recently a patrolman in the Little Silver, NJ, was charged with several serious offenses including assault and attempting to tamper with a witness.
Part of this officer’s job, when he was active on the force was to arrest motorists for driving while intoxicated. Any time an officer is charged with breaking the law, people start to wonder about the validity of previous arrests made by that individual, in this case arrests made against drivers who were believed to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to news articles, a grand jury had recently made an 11-count indictment against the veteran patrolman due to charges he assaulted a defendant and then asking a witness to lie or withhold information about the incident. The indictment included four counts of official misconduct, two each for obstruction of justice, aggravated assault and hindering his own apprehension, and one related to witness tampering.
An investigation was begun by the Monmouth County prosecutor and the Little Silver police after officials learned of an allegation that the officer used excessive force while on patrol.
The officer, who was well known for his work in catching and arresting drunk drivers, was initially suspended with pay. However, as soon as charges were filed last January, he was suspended without pay from his job.
The unfortunate thing is that this patrolman has been recognized many times for his service to the community. For example, in 2002 he and another Little Silver officer received a borough’s lifesaving award for performing CPR on a Shrewsbury firefighter who had collapsed at a fire. Back in 2003, he and two other officers were honored by Monmouth County’s Task Force on Drunk Driving for writing the most DWI summonses.
And in June of last year he was one of 74 New Jersey police officers honored by the state’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The year before, he had the highest percentage of DWI arrests in the county, according to minutes of a Borough Council meeting.
Little Silver police officer charged with assault, witness tampering, APP.com, September 13, 2010