NEWARK — Four police officers including a lieutenant are charged with falsifying records after prosecutors say they "barhopped" in full uniform and one of them crashed into a woman driving four children.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II said one of the officers, Michael Chirico, 55, of Newark, drove while under the influence the wrong way on University Avenue before the crash in January.

The officers on Jan. 18 made false entries into the police log about incidents they responded to but surveillance footage and other evidence showed that the officers were not present, according to Stephens.

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Lt. Norberto Soares, 42, of Kenilworth, Officer Erik Blount, 33, of Newark, and Officer Tashia Jones, 35, of Newark, were charged with third-degree tampering with public records. Chirico was also charged with driving under the influence.

Stephens called their behavior "reprehensible" because they were in uniform, which gives other officers a bad name.

"Not only did these officers barhop around the City of Newark while on duty and in full uniform, but they lied in an attempt to cover it up. One officer’s conduct put innocent people at risk. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has a zero tolerance policy toward officers who violate their oath and the public trust that comes with it,” Stephens said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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