Two Ewing Cops Disciplined for Taking Police Generators During Sandy For Their Own Use – Is This Criminal? [POLL]
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You may remember the story about the North Jersey officials who had taken public generators for their own use, and the ensuing ruckus.
Ruckus, yes, but was their using public generators criminal?
Nothing more has been said of the matter.
So here we have another instance of public generators being used by two Ewing policemen, who’ve since been disciplined by their department.
Because departmental rules prohibit the publication of their names and the nature of the discipline…one has to wonder if the discipline meets the level of the infraction they’ve commited.
And if the infraction itself rises to the level of criminal.
Two Ewing police officers have been disciplined for taking a pair of department-owned portable generators from police headquarters for personal use in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Chief Robert Coulton said today.
An internal affairs investigation was prompted after the unauthorized use of the generators was reported to Mayor Bert Steinmann. Neither officer has been identified, and township officials would not specify the nature of the discipline that resulted.
Steinmann said the officers probably needed supplemental power at unofficial locations, such as their homes.
“We were at the height of a storm, and I am sure that there were power outages at those particular places,” he said. “I am assuming that is probably what they wanted to use them for.”
Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey the night of Oct. 29, causing widespread power outages. Both missing generators have since been returned, but it was not disclosed how long the items were missing or when they were taken.
“The officers were charged departmentally,” Coulton said. He cited internal affairs regulations as the reason for withholding the officers’ names and the disciplinary measures. However, he said that policy allows for officers to be fined, suspended or docked pay, among other penalties.
“We ran it through the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office first to ensure there was no potential for criminal consequences or no criminal action on the part of the officers.”
Coulton said the prosecutor’s office recommended departmental sanctions.
"We determined that at this point there was not enough to pursue criminal charges,” Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.
Officials said the details of the missing generators first began to emerge on Nov. 5, when Lt. Edmund Shanoskie put out a memo to all officers notifying them that a generator had been moved from an entry area at police headquarters. The generator had a note attached to it indicating that repairs were needed.
“Whomever borrowed it, please return it so it can be repaired,” Shanoskie said in the memo, which was obtained by The Times.
Then on Nov. 14, Coulton issued a memo indicating that there had been reports that “unidentified department personnel inquired about or attempted to ‘borrow’ department owned portable generator(s) during Hurricane Sandy.”
The memo included reminders about township and departmental policies forbidding the use of public equipment and property for “personal purposes.”
After that memo was issued, Coulton said, it was discovered that the equipment had been taken.
Coulton said that, prior to going missing, the generators were being used during the onset of Hurricane Sandy to power his office and other parts of police headquarters. They were not being used by the township when they were taken, Steinmann said. Steinmann said that he supports Coulton’s disciplinary actions against the officers.
“It is not going to be a further recurrence,” Steinmann said. “I was satisfied with the results that came out of it.”
Steinmann said that the generators are small, and used primarily for non-intensive electrical needs. The mayor said that the disciplinary charges have been noted in each of the officers’ personnel files, and that the incident will “follow them around.”
“I do not know exactly what went through their minds. I am sure it was nothing malicious or intentional,” Steinmann said. “I think the people that were involved knew that it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, and all in all I think everybody learned a valuable lesson from it.”
He said that appropriate punishments have been meted out.
But we don’t know what those punishments were; but could safely assume that had it been any of us laypeople, you’d know the punishment...and you'd know our identities!
And being somewhat of a skeptic, I can’t help but feel that the prosecutor’s office wanted to give these two a “mulligan” and not pursue criminal charges.
Do you feel criminal charges are warranted in the case of the two Ewing police officers who used police generators for their own use during Sandy?