The investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office into alleged racial profiling by the Maplewood Police has come to a close, with the Office stating there is “insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution” of Police Chief Robert Cimino and Capt. Joshua Cummis.
The ECPO Professional Standards Bureau stated in a letter read aloud at the April 4 Township Committee meeting that the “investigation and review of all information failed to disclose sufficient evidence to fully prove or disprove the allegations.”
Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca has indicated that the town is carefully considering its next steps.
“The Township Committee received a copy of the letter in the late afternoon on April 4,” Mayor Victor DeLuca wrote to Village Green in an email on April 5. “The Township Committee discussed the letter and requested the Township Attorney review the options available to the Township Committee for its further action.”
When asked what those options were, the Mayor wrote that he was as yet unable to say, responding, “We are still sorting through the options in consultation with our municipal and labor attorneys.”
The full letter, addressed to Township Administrator Joseph Manning, reads in full:
The Professional Standards Bureau has reviewed the above complaint made on September 8, 2016 against Chief Cimino and Captain Joshua Cummis.
We’ve concluded that there is insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution in this matter. In addition the investigation and review of all information failed to disclose sufficient evidence to fully prove or disprove the allegation and it is closed as not sustained.
No further action will be take by this office.
The letter refers to events following the July 5, 2016 Maplewood fireworks when three teenage boys from South Orange and one from Maplewood were arrested and charged with a variety of counts—including disorderly conduct, obstruction of the administration of law, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer — as a large group of teens was escorted by the police through Maplewood toward the Irvington border.
Some witnesses claimed that when the teens came to the Elmwood Avenue and Boyden Avenue area, police “instigated” a fight. Tweets and video posted from that night appear to show some of the altercation, and one girl can be heard saying, “They just pepper sprayed everyone for no reason.” Columbia High School teacher T.J. Whitaker, who taught and advised a number of the teens, called for an independent investigation.
Last week, Village Green posted a story following up on the progress of the investigation.
When asked in late March about the ongoing investigation, Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca took the opportunity to point out Resolution 226-16 — “Supporting the Investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor” which was adopted on December 6, 2016 (read it here).
The resolution, which was proposed by DeLuca, notes that the “Maplewood Township Committee has deep concerns about the events of July 5, 2016,” and that the TC “calls upon the Essex County Prosecutor to conduct a thorough, fair, transparent and timely investigation of the alleged events regarding the Maplewood Police Department occurring on July 5, 2016.”
Other Township Committee members expressed their concerns at the March 21 Township Committee meeting:
“There have been incidents between the police and the public about which we cannot legally comment but it does not mean we are not thinking about them or are not concerned about them,” said Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams. “Even though we can not speak about them publicly, our silence is deafening. The public needs to hear from us as the governing body.”
Township Committee member Greg Lembrich also alluded to the incident in his remarks, saying, “Just because we are not talking about it because we are not permitted to, I’d like to assure the public that the TC is taking these issues very seriously and are doing whatever we can and … when the time comes to take any public action that we are committed to doing so.”
The Township Committee appointed Jeffrey G. Garrigan and Charles J. Sciarra to represent Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino and Captain Josh Cummis in the investigation. As of March 23, the town had spent $1,975.00 on their representation, according to Township Administrator Joseph Manning.