Union County cop was 3Xs legal limit in DWI car crash, Westfield police say
ELIZABETH — A police captain who investigates wrongdoing by fellow officers is facing charges that he crashed his car while driving drunk.
William Bukowski, of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested by Westfield police on April 9 after crashing his Chevrolet Tahoe into a parked car on a residential street.
Police said Bukowski’s blood alcohol content was 0.22 percent, or nearly three times the legal limit.
The crash on East Dudley Avenue occurred before 9:53 p.m. on the same day that officers from the Sheriff’s Office celebrated their participation in the Law Enforcement Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5K, which raised money for the Special Olympics.
Sheriff Joe Cryan, a Democrat who is seeking a seat in the state Senate this November, declined to comment on the case because it involves an employee matter.
Bukowski, 47, who lives in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington, was charged with driving while intoxicated and careless driving, neither of which are criminal offenses. His case has not yet been heard in Westfield Municipal Court.
He told police that he had swerved to miss a deer. He then hit a parked Chevrolet Colorado. Police said the impact was so great that the parked mid-sized truck was propelled across the street and onto a lawn.
Bukowski's arrest is coming to light after New Jersey 101.5 recently obtained copies of arrest and accident reports through Open Public Records Act requests filed with the Westfield police.
This is the same county where all law enforcement agencies are required to inform the Prosecutor's Office whenever an officer is accused of driving drunk or is charged with any misdemeanor or municipal ordinance offenses. It was a rule implemented after the arrest of Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad, who was sentenced this week to up to 25 years in prison for killing two men, including a fellow officer, and seriously inuring another officer in a wrong-way drunken crash in 2015.
Police agencies across the state are obligated to notify prosecutors only when officers are charged with the more serious crimes that could be presented to grand juries for possible indictments.
But Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park implemented the wider reporting requirement in January 2016 after the neighboring Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office found that Linden Police Department had been deficient in investigating and punishing Abad after previous drunk-driving crashes.
Park's office, however, declined to provide New Jersey 101.5 with a list or tally of all DWI and misdemeanor arrests of police officers in the county since her rule went into effect.
A spokesman for the office said the state Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures mandate that “the nature and source of internal allegations, the progress of internal affairs investigations, and the resulting materials are confidential.”
A year-end tally of internal affairs investigations by police agencies in the county — one of the very few internal police documents that the public is allowed to see — reveals that there were 18 complaints alleging criminal violations by officers in 2016.
Criminal cases against cops in Union County resulted in two convictions in municipal courts and one in Superior Court.
In the county Sheriff's Office, there were no complaints of criminal violations lodged in 2016 and two in 2015, one filed by a citizen and the other by the office.
The internal affairs documents provided to New Jersey 101.5 do not name the officers who were convicted or what they were convicted of.
Elsewhere in New Jersey this week, a Ramsey police officer was charged with drunken driving after crashing his personal car into a tree in Park Ridge.
Police say Vasili Pieratos' blood alcohol level was measured at 0.19 after the crash in Park Ridge early Wednesday. Pieratos and another officer, who was a passenger, were able to get themselves out of the wrecked car.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.