NJ chief blows stop, hits guardrail — no alcohol test, no charges
INDEPENDENCE — A Warren County police chief could lose his job after being pulled over on suspicion of intoxicated driving.
Video and police reports, however, show that the chief was never given a breath or sobriety test and was chauffeured home without getting a ticket despite police recording a long list of traffic violations.
Township police Chief Keith Aiello was pulled over early Feb. 10 after another driver called police about 2:17 a.m. to report an erratic driver.
The witness said the vehicle was driving on and off the road, had hit a curb and gotten stuck, was swerving, was failing to maintain a lane and had blown through a stop sign, according to police records obtained by Libertarians for Transparent Government.
After police pulled over Aiello's 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe, he can be seen on dashcam video stumbling out of his car.
An officer can be heard telling Aiello that they had gotten a call about an erratic driver.
"Not me," the chief says in speech that sounds slurred.
The rest of the video — which the township had tried to keep secret until they were forced by a Superior Court judge to release it — does not have audio but the chief can be seen checking the passenger side of his vehicle with two officers.
According to the police report, Aiello told officers that he had been trying to find his ringing cellphone when he accidentally swerved and hit a guardrail.
The crash report says that alcohol was involved but no drug test was administered.
Aiello was suspended from his job three days later. LehighValleyLive.com reported this week that Aiello was faces termination.
Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone on Tuesday ordered the township to pay for the Libertarians for Transparent Government's legal expenses in their Open Public Records Act lawsuit. The group was represented by attorney Walter Luers.
Aiello has more than 22 years of experience. Before his suspension, he was earning a base salary of $102,500.
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.