Fulop fails to end JCPD off-duty jobs program, new policy reflects Real Jersey City reports
Mayor Steven Fulop received lots of press when he announced his administration would end the JCPD off-duty jobs program, but like other policy initiatives led by Director James Shea – it was all talk and no results.
Baby, it’s cold outside, but that won’t be stopping many Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers from working off-duty jobs this winter – despite Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea’s promise to end the corruption-riddled program.
While announcing the end of off-duty security jobs in the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) during a press conference on February 14, 2018, Fulop proclaimed that “all other off-duty assignments, specifically those involving large construction sites and work by utilities impacting vehicular traffic, will be ended within six months to one year.”
As previously reported, the city created a “Housing Unit” within the JCPD to be staffed with a minimum of four full-time officers and one supervisor to “enhance the safety and security” of JCHA residents. That policy was enacted after federal authorities convicted ex-JCPD Chief Philip Zacche for a no-show, off-duty security job that was originally exposed by a Real Jersey City investigation.
As for all the other JCPD off-duty jobs, according to a document obtained by Real Jersey City – it seems like they won’t be eliminated after all. “The City of Jersey City has endeavored to reform the practice of the secondary employment program,” per General Order 17-18 issued by Chief Michael Kelly on December 3, 2018.
The order is being implemented consistent with Municipal Ordinance 13-141 as adopted by the Jersey City Council on December 18, 2013. Additionally, it cites Attorney General Formal Opinion 1977-No. 23 – which covers off-duty employment for police officers in a uniformed capacity.
Most importantly, the order reflects numerous issues exclusively reported on by Real Jersey City. Below are two that stick out:
No more “book by phone”
During The State of New Jersey vs Joseph Ascolese, Kelly Chesler, and Michael O’Neill, the concept of a “book by phone” was raised multiple times. In short, a “book by phone” occurs when a supervisor calls an officer, rather than visiting an off-duty post directly, to document that an officer was working their assignment.
Needless to say, a “book by phone” unofficial policy practically lends itself to corruption.
Provisional Deputy Chief Neil Donnelly testified he never heard of such a term, then two minutes later admitted he had used a cell phone for booking. Captain Joseph Santiago testified that he couldn’t recall giving permission, over the phone, to an officer to sign their voucher for him, but that it’s “not out of the realm of possibility.”
Moving forward, it will be out of the realm of possibility. According to General Order 17-18, “under no circumstance will a supervisor book an officer working a detail by phone or at any location other than the job site.”
Off-Duty Supervisors must have vouchers signed by a Desk Lieutenant
“The off duty supervisor must also have his/her off duty employment voucher signed by a Desk Lieutenant upon completion of their tour of duty,” according to the general order.
With that policy in place nearly three years ago, retired JCPD Lt. Terrence Crowley wouldn’t have been busted driving to his shore home multiple times with hours left on his off-duty supervisor shift. Ditto that for retired Capt. Leonidas “Lou” Karras, even though he wasn’t properly investigated for his on-duty and off-duty theft of services.
Even worse for supervisors like Crowley and Karras is that, if the new policy was in place back in early 2016, they would’ve had to book officers “more than one time during the duration of the detail as time and circumstances permit.”
No comment from Fulop Administration
A Fulop Administration spokesperson declined to respond to an email regarding Chief Kelly’s order and whether the program would be eliminated or not.
Of note, one source mused that Fulop’s promise to end the off-duty program was an obvious “charade put on for the media” to distract from both his failures and Shea’s corrupt handling of the program.