NJ police chief accused of corruption retires with $177K yearly pension
👮 Union County police chief James C. Debbie retired in January with a full pension
👮 A lawsuit claims he ordered a cop to alter a police report to protect a county employee
👮 Debbie has faced other accusations from his cops claiming he created a culture of misconduct
The Union County police chief has retired in good standing with his full pension after a history of accusations of misconduct, including the latest lawsuit against him which claims he ordered a subordinate to tamper with evidence.
The Union County Prosecutor's Office has declined to release the findings of an Internal Affairs investigation from last year into Union County police Chief James C. Debbie. Attorney Brian Schiller filed an appeal on Tuesday demanding the report's release.
Schiller told New Jersey 101.5 that multiple sources have said the investigation found that Debbie, nicknamed by those in his own department as "False Facts," ordered a cop to alter a police report to protect a county employee accused of an illicit side hustle using county property.
According to the lawsuit, two versions of the Mar. 19, 2022 police report exist — the initial report with the employee's name and the altered report where the name has been removed. Copies of both documents were included in Schiller's lawsuit.
Schiller said in the suit that not providing the results of the internal affairs investigation "undermines the public trust" as there is no way for the public to know if Debbie faced any consequences.
"Hiding internal affairs records from the public harms the legitimacy of the police and prohibits the public from serving as an important check on government," Schiller said.
The UCPO and Union County did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Embattled Union County police chief retires in good standing
Chief James C. Debbie was sworn into the chief position in 2017. He retired last month after serving 34 years as a police officer and made $177,251 a year as of Sept. 30, 2022, according to state pension records.
One former lieutenant for the Union County police department on social media told his old coworkers to "rejoice" in Debbie's retirement.
"Today is the last day you have to endure the command of a ruthless tyrant. A pitiful excuse for a leader, who was moved up the ranks through political patronage. A documented liar, who should have been fired early on in his career. But through the magic of politics, he made it all the way to the top spot, even though he was the least qualified person for the job," he said.
The new acting chief as of Feb. 1 is Martin Mogensen, according to a memo from County Manager Edward Oatman.
Misconduct accusations against Union County police chief
The civil complaint references prior accusations against Debbie, including a lawsuit Schiller filed on behalf of Homero Almanzar. The police sergeant claimed he faced harsher punishments for lateness than Debbie's favored officers caught having sex on duty in police vehicles and drunk driving.
READ MORE: Sex on duty? Drunk driving? White cops in Union County, NJ got a pass, lawsuit says.
Other activities that cops in Debbie's "old boy's club" were able to get a pass on included engaging in prostitution, crashing Union County vehicles, harboring missing juveniles, and perjury, according to Almanzar's suit.
Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.