Newark, NJ - A Newark police officer has been suspended for six months for failing to arrest drivers who had outstanding warrants for their arrest.
A routine audit of the officer's body and dash cams from earlier this year showed him stopping a vehicle for a traffic violation. A computer check advised the officer that the driver had an outstanding warrant, but the officer only issued a ticket.
He did not serve the outstanding warrant.
In a statement from Wednesday, August 9, Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said, "I will not tolerate officers taking shortcuts or failing to do their job. The majority of our officers work extremely hard and risk their lives daily doing so. This young officer needs to accept his discipline and to return to work with a compliant and positive work ethic. If he doesn't, there is no room for him in the Newark Police Division."
The agency's Integrity Control Officer conducted an investigation into the issue, and discovered that this officer had let several other wanted drivers go.
Director Ambrose also said that the officer would receive additional training when he returns to work in January.
James Stewart, president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, said that the dash and body cams "hold officers accountable" for 'wrongdoing'.
He said that includes this young cop who is "paying a heavy price for his failure to make several arrests as he was bound to do," and that cameras "can and should be used to discourage wrongful accusations against police by members of the public."
Stewart said, "I can only hope that when citizens make accusations against our officers that are subsequently found to be false via the same body camera footage review that our administration authorizes charges for making false police reports with the same vigor".
Panasonic has donated 80 body cams and 15 dash cams for Newark police officers.
Director Ambrose said that the Newark Police Department brought back Integrity Control Officers this year, and that they are "ranking officers who are responsible for monitoring officers' activity in order to identify and correct any potentially problematic behavior."
No motive was released for the officer's decision not to serve the outstanding warrants.
While police officers have discretion on whether to issue a verbal warning, a written warning, a citation, or actually arrest a driver for some offenses on a traffic violation, there is no discretion when someone has an active, valid warrant. The warrant is an order from a judge to arrest that person, unless circumstances don't allow for it.