MORRISTOWN — A police labor dispute has rank-and-file officers claiming that they are being punished with nighttime foot patrol assignments in response to a drop in revenue from tickets.

Morristown PBA Local 43 said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the town administration had chosen to retaliate against officers for being "extremely hesitant to write tickets outside of mandatory, flagrant, or unusual circumstances" during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Acting Police Chief Darnell Richardson responded Monday by calling the union's contention "false information" that was "reckless, unprofessional and completely irresponsible."

"Let me be clear, as the Police Chief, I make the sole decision on the operations of the Police Bureau without any interference from Town Administration," Richardson said on his own Facebook post.

The police union said township administrators were behind recent mandatory foot patrols at night, sending officers out with "no medical equipment such as Narcan for overdoses, oxygen, defibrillator (AED for cardiac arrests), and other tools commonly used."

Richardson said it was "sad that our Police officers’ union representatives consider foot patrols a punishment, especially when foot patrols are a traditional function of every police department in the country, including ours, and provide a much-needed service to parts of our community."

The top cop said the department has had foot patrol assignments in place for more than 40 years.

"The patrol division is the largest and most visible area of the Police Department," according to the Morristown police website, with an authorized strength of 42 police officers.

Richardson said one specific late-night foot patrol assignment has been in place since July in a residential neighborhood in response to complaints made to his office and at Morristown Council meetings about a lack of police presence and late-night rowdy behavior.

The acting police chief also said there is no revenue quota, as summons quotas are illegal, and that police officers are expected to "demonstrate productivity for each shift that they work."

The PBA also said in its Facebook post that "until this is rectified, please be patient with us as calls may potentially need to be prioritized to accommodate your needs."

"It is troubling that our officers’ response to being held accountable for their hours of work is to contort that expectation into a false narrative to our residents rather than do the job they are expected to do," Richardson said, also adding of the department that he hopes that a "disgruntled few do not distract from their hard work and dedication."

As reported by Morristown Green, Mayor Tim Dougherty said he has no legal authority over police operations.

“I have full confidence in our chief of police and how he allocates resources in the town of Morristown, especially when they are in response to resident concerns," he said.

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