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.

JCPD Chief Michael Kelly (left) and, from left to right, Public Safety Director James Shea, Sgt. Anton Yanni, and Mayor Steven Fulop (top right).

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.

AUDIO BELOW:

5 comments

  • Michael’s integrity first campaign just hit a wall. Time to retire, you’re not effective. Besides, the troops despise you and your office mates.

  • Sounds like a good “Community Relations” tactic. Missing mirrors on a parked car doesn’t appear to rise to the level of causing the ” wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth”.

  • Does it matter? No because nothing will be done about this. Dudes a good”community guy” whatever that is but his his vin number covered and no mirrors. Yes, sounds like a very responsible individual.

  • I don’t really understand the point of this article? Simply to try and embarrass the Chief?
    Tickets are always discretionary. Some officers are sticklers and some aren’t. It’s not mandatory unless the vehicle was involved in an accident or a related crime. This doesn’t really violate anything, unless you are speaking about morality…and that’s like the pot calling the kettle black.
    The car wasn’t towed, but a summonsed was issued, so the “good community guy” wasn’t given much of a break and the cops didn’t ignore the circumstances. Perhaps it really didn’t meet the level for a tow. I don’t know if covering up a VIN number being covered or missing mirrors can really be towed, I’m not sure. I thought that was just for a car that can’t move, or is not registered or insured or in those “Emergency No Parking” zones. Everyone likes a bit of a break every once in a while. Don’t ruin it for everyone by writing a foolish article in an attempt to get website hits only to try and stick it to “the man.” Then they might issue some new order that a summons must be issued or something crazy like that because you can’t help yourself. I hope I can get a break the next time I’m stopped by a JC officer (knock on wood).

  • I would like to know WHO the “good community guy” is? A donor? Big developer/weathy land owner, personal friend? The world may never know.

    Does the Chief of the Jersey City Police Department normally get himself involved in matters such as this? I really don’t think so… How many times has Chief Kelly interjected on behalf of others with traffic/motor vehicle summonses AFTER the ticket was already written and issued? And, what exactly prompted the Chief to get involved. Chief Kelly specifically stated that this individual “does the right thing.” I would like to know exactly what that “thing” is so that every other good member of our community is afforded the same opportunity when they do the same “thing.”

    Have officers ever been admonished/transferred by Chief Kelly for issuing summonses? What is the process for voiding a ticket once submitted? Isn’t the summons a matter for the courts to decide once issued? Listening to the above radio transmissions, it appears that the Chief wanted the Officer to rethink his/her initial judgment into a different outcome after the ticket was already given. I wonder if that summons will ever make it to the courts for a final disposition?

    This looks like a simple impound and equipment violation. I would hope that most of the citizens of Jersey City are considered “good community” members. Question is, will Chief Kelly be there for the rest of the pillars of our great community to intercede when we have our own traffic/motor vehicle situation, or just those that happen to have his personal number on speed dial that do “the right thing”

    I think Chief Kelly should have a closer look at his “integrity first” plan and what’s right for the Department and City before getting on the radio like that ever again.

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