NJ cops vandalize cars of citizen who filed complaint, prosecutor says
ASBURY PARK — After a citizen filed a complaint against two city police officers, the men in blue responded by vandalizing the person's vehicles, officials said Wednesday.
The cops now find themselves on the other side of the law.
Officer Stephen Martinsen, 29, and Class 2 Special Law Enforcement Officer Thomas Dowling, 26, have been charged with third-degree conspiracy, fourth-degree possession of a knife and possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Martinsen has been suspended without pay while Dowling has been fired, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Wednesday.
Prosecutors say the cars were vandalized sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. Tuesday. One car was parked in Asbury Park while the other was in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune Township.
Prosecutors said the vehicles' owner had filed an internal affairs complaint against the cops several days earlier. Officials did not describe the nature of the complaint, which are usually kept secret from the public.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their duties with integrity and honor," Gramiccioni said. "However, when a police officer takes advantage of the very citizens they are sworn to protect, it erodes public confidence and violates the public’s trust. Such behavior will never be acceptable or tolerated. If these charges prove to be true, this is the quintessential definition of a breach of trust between law enforcement and the public."
Police Chief David Kelso the officers' "behavior is not acceptable and does not represent the level of professionalism, community focus or resident safety that we expect of our officers.”
Officials did not publicly say Wednesday how the two cops were caught.
Martinsen joined the force in 2013 as a special law enforcement officer and became full-time in 2017. Dowling joined the force as a Class 2 special officer in 2015. Both are city residents.
New Jersey 101.5 did know know Wednesday whether either officer had an attorney who could speak on their behalf.
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.