YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Nine rookie Port Authority police officers were fired and four suspended today — and their probations extended a year — as a result of an alcohol-fueled, post-graduation bash in Hoboken this past summer, the agency said this afternoon, confirming a CLIFFVIEW PILOT report from early this morning.
“The ones who weren’t terminated were extremely lucky,” one source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT, noting that the quasi-public agency can terminate probationary officers without the usual due process or union representation. “Their actions were considered less egregious.”
Three supervisors also are facing sanctions; all have legal representation.
Based on multiple sources, CLIFFVIEW PILOT reported this morning that some of the rookies would be suspended while others would be terminated.
The suspensions are for a minimum of 30 days, beginning tomorrow. The four will also have their probations extended an additional year, from August 2015 to August 2016.
“This is a sad day for the Port Authority Police Department,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said. “We are extremely disappointed by the conduct of the probationary officers involved and appalled by the poor judgment of the academy staff members in attendance.
“The Port Authority is justly proud of the history and dedication of its police department and views the conduct in question as deeply troubling.”
“The individuals who faced discipline today represent a very small percentage of a department that has otherwise distinguished itself for competence and valor,” Port Authority Chairman John Degnan added.
Videotaped evidence that is “of good quality and quite devastating” led to the dismissals, as well as to departmental charges against an authority police academy lieutenant for his behavior during the Aug. 22 incident at Texas Arizona Bar and Grill near the NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal and PATH station, one Port Authority source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT in September.
The lieutenant was “suspected of being badly inebriated and guilty, as a result, of failure to supervise the rookies who are seen on video stealing beer and damaging the bathroom area of the bar,” the source said.
Internal affairs investigators interviewed a sergeant who was up for a promotion and no fewer than 90 rookie officers — including “those who were already identified and suspected of misconduct,” the source said — in the probe.
The Port Authority already confirmed that it was reviewing the actions of a dozen rookies and the lieutenant.
Those gathered were celebrating the graduation earlier that day of the Port Authority Police Academy’s 113th class — its largest ever, with 249 graduates — at the Dunn Center in Elizabeth.
Sources at the time said the officers were rowdy and ignored bouncers who tried to quiet them — with some “flashing their new badges,” one said — after which Hoboken police were called. They, in turn, contacted authority supervisors.
The Internal Affairs Bureau “has tapes of the night and they are of good quality and quite devastating,” one source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
“Some of it is so good they were able to get badge numbers,” said another.
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