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Friday, March 30, 2007

Politicizing the Police Division

There is but one conclusion to draw from the Assemblyman's suspension of Police Chief Ed Santiago: Politics in a particularly lethal form is steadily worming its way down to the lowest level of municipal government.

We may expect that Department Heads will be political appointees; after all, elected officials have a right to their administrative priorities.

But it is unusual, given the continuing intense scrutiny by US Attorney Chris Christie, to see it being rolled out so dramatically as it is in Plainfield. Today's Ledger carries the story of Chief Santiago's latest suspension by this Administration (
"Plainfield suspends police chief a 3rd time").

Make no mistake about it, this is as political as it gets, notwithstanding Mayor Robinson-Briggs' declaration that "there have been no practices of retaliation on the part of this administration."

At issue is whether the Public Safety Director has the authority to manage the Police Division at the level of granularity being sought. The Chief has resisted, and has grounds for doing so, according to the state police chiefs' association.

PT's guess is that the trail of breadcrumbs -- when this goes to court -- will lead back to Plainfield's special charter.

While the Charter spells out powers of the Public Safety Director in some detail, you will search in vain to find other than oblique references to the Police Chief.

Does that automatically mean the Director has the upper hand? Stay tuned.

As for the Assemblyman's threat of an ex post facto law -- in PT's humble opinion, it's a non-starter in the America of the founding fathers ("The sentiment that ex post facto laws are against natural right, is so strong in the United States, that few, if any, of the State constitutions have failed to proscribe them... [T]hey are equally unjust in civil as in criminal cases." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813).

Meanwhile, Frick and Frack, true Forces Of Entropy, are busily wreaking havoc elsewhere.

Of which more, later.

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Dan -

What is the story on the DUI from yesterday - quite a teaser but nothing followed - still under investigation or an error? Let us know please...