“I can assure you that all involved are being held accountable for their actions,” said a stern Mayor David Roberts during a Friday morning press conference at City Hall at which he and other city officials resisted releasing information on the results of a three-month investigation of a two-year-old Police Department problem. “The discipline is going to meet the behavior.”
Last Thursday, residents expected the results of the highly touted investigation into several trips taken by the Hoboken Police Department, particularly the SWAT team, to Louisiana two years ago to help in the post-hurricane relief effort. The investigation began after five Latino officers filed a lawsuit in November accusing their SWAT superior, Lt. Angelo Andriani, of racist actions during the trip and at other times.
Photos were leaked of various officers behaving badly on the trip, including allowing waitresses at a Hooters restaurant to hold their guns.
After the photos got national press coverage, Mayor David Roberts hired a former deputy fire chief, William Bergin, to be the town’s public safety director. Roberts also charged an attorney, David Corrigan, with conducting an investigation into the charges related to the lawsuit, the trips, and other related matters.
The results of the investigation were due this past Thursday, as well as the proposed discipline. However, city officials held off on releasing specific names and charges.
Louis Zayas, an attorney for the five Latino officers, told Fox News last week that some of the officers he represents are among the SWAT members who will be disciplined for their behavior.
Fox News said Thursday night that some officers will be charged with “uttering the N-word among themselves” and not reporting some of the problems on the trip in a timely manner.
We’ll tell you Wednesday
According to the mayor, who was flanked by Bergin and Corporation Counsel Steven Kleinman, the names of the individuals and the resulting charges will be released by the end of the workday this coming Wednesday, March 5.
Under the direction of Kleinman, Roberts refused to specify what exactly would be accomplished in the coming week that will allow for the disclosure on Wednesday rather than now.
The mayor did say the city would require permission from Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio before they can release any information.
What the prosecutor says
In a phone interview later that day, DeFazio said that he would expect a list of charges and a list of names to be released this week. However, due to the fact that it is a city personnel matter, the exact allegations toward each officer are unlikely to be released, he said.
“In a general way, the charges will be made public. Since its personnel matter and the officers will be permitted to have a hearing, until the matter is finally resolved, there won’t be any discussion on the facts surrounding [individual cases],” said DeFazio. “We’re very limited to what we can reveal based on personnel regulations.”
Kleinman fielded some questions Friday morning from the numerous reporters who converged on the city, filtering out questions he believed could be detrimental to the investigation.
“If you look at the process we are undertaking, I think the process speaks for itself, giving everyone involved due process above and beyond what is required by law,” said Kleinman in response to press inquiries that seemed to cast doubt on the integrity of the investigation.
Kleinman told the Reporter two weeks ago that Bergin will decide on disciplinary action based on Corrigan’s investigation, and then an outside hearing officer will be hired to determine whether the punishments are fair.
Bergin said, “[The investigation] was extremely thorough, and [Special Counsel David Corrigan] did an excellent job. He gave me a lot to go on.”
Bergin added, “With any punishment, there’s always going to be some type of positive effect, because everybody’s going to realize that they’re not going to get away with something like this, and the average patrolman on the street is going to look at this and say, ‘It had to be done.’ ”
Chief not there
Police Chief Carmen LaBruno was not at the press conference.
When asked about this, Bergin, who technically is LaBruno’s boss, said, “Everything that I’ve asked Chief LaBruno to do, he’s been doing since this investigation has been brought up.” Bergin added, “In reference to him being here today, I think it would have been extremely difficult for him to be here, [considering] he is a member of the department.”
When LaBruno was phoned for his reaction to the investigation, he said simply, “No comment.”
Calls were placed to Lt. Angelo Andriani, who is the subject of the initial lawsuit filed against the city, but he did not respond by press time.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com