Wednesday, June 21, 2017


The Township plans to hire an outside investigative firm to review the July 5, 2016, incident in which some Maplewood police were accused of improper behavior.

The Township Committee on Tuesday night voted, 5-0, on a resolution that will retain HillardHeintz of Chicago at a rate of $29,000 to review the incident and policies related to it. The agreement also includes up to $5,850 in expenses for a total of $34,850. No deadline for the review to be completed has been set.

Mayor Vic Deluca referred to it as an "independent assessment" of the incident, "looking at what happened, what policies there were in place at the time, what polices were adhered to, what policies were not adhered to and what we could do better. What we could do so that this would not occur again."

You may recall that police were accused of abusive behavior when dealing with a group of juveniles who had gathered near the corner of Valley Street and Parker Avenue after the Independence Day fireworks that night, July 5, 2016.

The July 4 fireworks were delayed a day due to rain. But after they were held on July 5, many youths gathered at the corner near Columbia High School and the 7-11, sparking police efforts to disperse the crowd. 

Police later reported that four juveniles were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction of the administration of law, resisting arrest, and assault of a police officer.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Police Chief Robert Cimino announced that an internal investigation had been launched into claims that police had
acted improperly during the July 5 events. Cimino and Mayor Vic Deluca said last month that the investigation was continuing, but offered no details or any estimation of when it will be completed.

The ongoing investigation had also blocked release of all police reports related to the incident. Public information requests for copies of such reports have been denied.

In September 2016, reported that the Essex County Prosecutor's Office had launched its own investigation into police conduct. That probe ended in April, according to Township Administrator Joseph Manning, who cited a letter from the prosecutor's office that said, in part, "there is insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution in this matter."

But it failed to exonerate the officers, stating only that the investigation "failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation."

Since then, the police department internal investigation has continued with no word on when it might end or any findings.

See the update on the hiring from Township Attorney Roger Desiderio and the TC vote and discussion below:

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