LONG BRANCH — A Monmouth County police chief apologized for the actions of a veteran officer that led an investigation, suspension and possible termination.

Long Branch officer Patrick Joyce, a 12-year veteran of the force, was charged Friday by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office for inappropriately touching a 21-year-old woman without her consent "for his own sexual arousal or gratification" at a party on February 1, celebrating promotions in the police department at Jack’s Goal Line Stand.

"I apologize to the residents of the City of Long Branch that the Long Branch Police Department serves faithfully every day and hope you will not judge us on the actions of one officer. There are 90 plus other officers here that put their lives on the line for the City of Long Branch," wrote Long Branch police chief Jason Roebuck in a statement posted to the department's Facebook page.

Roebuck said he was releasing his statement about Joyce with "outrage and embarrassment" despite the incident happening while Joyce was off-duty,

"He has defied the public trust and harmed the reputation of our department. Police Officers are supposed to protect the public, not prey upon them," Roebuck wrote of Joyce's behavior.

Joyce was suspended without pay and his employment may be terminated, Roebuck said.

Roebuck took note of an Asbury Park Press report that Joyce served a year on probation in 2011 and was suspended from the force the year after he punched a man outside a nightclub while he was off duty.

"This is one of the many reasons such prompt and decisive action was taken immediately following this incident. There is a process to be followed in all discipline cases, as there is now," Roebuck said.

Joyce was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual contact and harassment. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court on March 15, 2019.

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

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