AUDIO: JCPD Chief Michael Kelly meddled in ticket dispute, but was it improper?
Some cops aren’t happy that Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly interjected himself into a ticket dispute on behalf of a “good community guy,” asking the supervisor at the scene to “use your best judgment” regarding a summons issued due to missing mirrors.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The audio recording of radio dispatches related to this story are at the bottom of the article.
No one likes getting a ticket, but not everyone has the power to call a police chief and have them interject into a dispute over a summons they’ve been issued.
According to radio dispatches obtained by Real Jersey City, that’s apparently what happened around 6:30 PM on January 22, 2019, near the intersection of Carteret Avenue and Clerk Street in Jersey City.
“I need a supervisor to go down to Carteret and Clerk,” Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Chief Michael Kelly announced over the radio. “There’s a citizen down there… just try and ameliorate whatever the situation is… just have a supervisor get down there and get in the middle of it.”
According to sources, it was JCPD Sgt. Anton Yanni who responded to Kelly that he was already at the scene before explaining the situation.
“His vehicle was in the area where they needed to do an emergency job,” Yanni stated over the radio.
“He showed up after the truck was on the hook already. I told the hook to drop the vehicle being that the owner is there. However, he has no mirrors… He’s being issued a summons for failure to make repairs.”
Kelly followed by asking Yanni if the car was vandalized and whether that was why there were no mirrors.
“He’s given us a story, but we can’t verify that,” Yanni answered. “Both mirrors were not on the car and it looks like an old damage. It’s not recent damage.”
“Use your best judgement on it, please,” Kelly responded before telling Yanni to “give him his car back and try and call it a night.”
“Chief, we dropped the car already, the tow truck is gone,” Yanni replied before noting that a summons was issued and the vehicle apparently had its VIN number covered.
“Alright, just use your best judgement, he’s a good community guy,” Kelly said in response. “He does the right thing, so, ugh, I’m a little surprised by what you’re telling me. Just use your judgment.”
“Received, Sir,” Yanni said as he acknowledge the chief’s message and concluded the conversation.
Jersey City Spokesperson Ashley Manz declined to respond to an email seeking comment regarding who the “good community guy” was, what Kelly meant by “use your best judgment,” and whether Mayor Steven Fulop had any thoughts regarding his police chief involving himself in a relatively minor violation.
Numerous police sources who spoke with Real Jersey City were outraged over the situation, alleging that Kelly improperly meddled in the ticket dispute and cleverly used his influence to let it be known he wanted the summons squashed.
After reviewing the audio prior to publication of this article, former JCPD Chief Robert “Bubba” Cowan said that he believed “Chief Kelly inappropriately interfered with what was going on in the street and in “cop code” was telling the sergeant not to issue the tickets.”
Cowan specifically noted that “the sergeant essentially told Chief Kelly that vandalism was not the case,” and at least three times in response was told to “use your best judgement” by Kelly.