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10 N.J.A.R. 44

Morrison, Raymond H. v. City of Bridgeton
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Citation: 10 N.J.A.R. 44
Decision Date: 1986
Synopsis: Petitioner was removed from his position as a city patrolman on charges that he was insubordinate, made an unlawful arrest, an un- lawful search and seizure and that he failed to comply with rules and regulations of the police department. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that the removal action arose from an incident which occurred in May 1985. Petitioner entered a private residence at 5:49 A.M. in order to arrest an individual for failing to appear in municipal court for violation of a dog ordinance. In addition, he failed to notify the police dis- patcher that he was leaving his vehicle to make the arrest. Petitioner's work record indicated that he had been a patrolman since 1968 and was previously suspended five times for various reasons. The last suspension was in 1981. The administrative law judge concluded that petitioner's actions amounted to violations of an order of the Chief of Police (i.e., minor warrants not be served on the ll:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. shift), the Department's Rules of Conduct (i.e., making an arrest that did not comply with departmental procedures), and the Department's Duty Manual (i.e., requiring informing the dispatcher of whereabouts). However, the judge did not agree that removal was justified and ordered instead that petitioner be suspended for six months. The judge noted that the current misconduct involved a minor offense and there was no evidence of criminal intent in entering the residence. Also, although petitioner's disciplinary record was not particularly good, he had served the last three and one-half years without incident. Upon review, the Civil Service Commission rejected the adminis- trative law judge's recommendation that the penalty be modified to a six-month suspension. Instead, the appointing authority's action in removing petitioner was affirmed. State of New Jersey 45 Morrison r. Bridgeton In determining that removal was the appropriate penalty, the ' Civil Service Commission considered both the current incident and petitioner's prior disciplinary record. Regarding the current charges, the Commission found petitioner's conduct was not only violatire of departmental rules, but also constituted probable violation of privacy and constitutional rights; reflected poorly on the public image of the police department, and created a potentially dangerous situation. Taking into account the gravity of th[ present charges and the nature of petitioner's prior disciplinary record, the Commission concluded that serious disciplinary action was clearly warranted and the removal was the appropriate penalty. Charles J. Sprigman, Jr., Esq., for petitioner Michael Testa, Esq., for respondent
Citation Tracker modified-Civil Serv. Com'n; aft.-216 N.J. Super. 143 (App. Div., 1987) [Updated through 1991]