Maplewood Appoints Counsel for Police in Racial Profiling Investigation, Requests Thorough & Transparent Process

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On Tuesday night, Dec. 6, the Maplewood Township Committee appointed attorneys to represent Police Chief Robert Cimino and Captain Joshua Cummis in an investigation being conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The Committee also passed a resolution requesting that the ECPO “conduct a thorough, fair, transparent and timely investigation of alleged incidences.”

The investigation concerns alleged incidents of racial profiling by police on July 5, 2016, involving a number of young residents after the Township’s annual fireworks in Memorial Park. Young residents involved in the incidents allege that police “herded” them up Parker Ave., across Suffolk, and down Midland toward Boyden Park. As the group attempted to head back to South Orange, police pepper sprayed at least one of them. Others claimed to have sustained bruises from some type of physical contact.

Three South Orange teens and one Maplewood teen were arrested.

In August, Cimino said that the incidents were under investigation and responded with this statement: “The Maplewood Police Department considers all allegations of police misconduct to be extremely important and investigates all such allegations in accordance with the NJ Attorney Generals Internal Affairs.Guidelines On July 5, Maplewood Police officers responded to various reports of disorderly conduct, fighting, the failure of large crowds to disperse and various other violations of the law. Several arrests were made on that date. The Internal Affairs Unit of the Maplewood Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into allegations regarding police activities on the date of July 5, 2016. Upon the conclusion of the the investigation the results of the investigation will be disseminated according to the NJ Attorney Generals Internal Affairs Guidelines.”

At a September Township Committee meeting, Columbia High School teacher T.J. Whitaker asked for an independent investigation into the incident. Whitaker teaches a number of the teens involved or supervises them in student groups at CHS.

The Township will pay Jeffrey G. Garrigan and Charles J. Sciarra at a rate of $250 hour to represent Cimino and Cummis. The resolution (see below) states that the Township is “statutorily required to provide legal counsel to the police officers, as requested.”

The resolution (#214-16) for the assignment of counsel was on the consent agenda with a number of other resolutions. While there was no discussion of the resolution, after the passage of the consent agenda, Mayor Vic DeLuca requested that the TC vote on another resolution.

“I’d like to propose an additional resolution,” said DeLuca.

He then read the very brief resolution:

“The Maplewood Township Committee requests the Essex County Prosecutor conduct a thorough, fair, transparent and timely investigation of alleged incidences regarding the Maplewood Police Department occurring on July 5, 2016.”

DeLuca added, “That expresses our deep concern about taking care of this.”

There was no discussion of the resolution (#225-16) by the Township Committee. It passed unanimously.

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