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Jersey Shore Police Had To Use Personal Phones; Lacked Tasers, Radar, Body Armor: Prosecutor

Daily Voice Somerset County NJ logo: MainLogo Daily Voice Somerset County NJ 3/24/2023 Jon Craig

Lavallette police © Provided by Daily Voice Middlesex County NJ Lavallette police

A probe by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office found that the Lavallette Police Department did incomplete background checks on new hires and required officers to use their own cell phones on emergency calls.

The latter was due to a faulty radio system at the police station, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, who took command of the department during the 10-month review.

A total of 25 deficiencies were corrected in the past year, but at least eight remain, the lengthy report said.

The report by the prosecutor, released on Friday, March 24, also found a co-mingling of money seized as evidence and an ongoing “meddlesome pattern of behavior by the governing body, current business administrator and current township attorney into the daily operations" of the police department and "continuous attempts to interfere" with the prosecutor's "implementation of plans/directives/policies designed to meet current police standards."

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office restored full command and control of the Lavallette Police Department on Friday to Lavallette Police Chief Christian LaCicero, who was appointed on Oct. 31, 2022.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office took over command of the department on May 19, 2022, after former police Chief Colin Grant retired and the standards fell below those necessary for a professional law enforcement agency, Billhimer said. 

The radio communications antenna and backup system were replaced so officers no longer have to use their personal cell phones.

IThe department implemented the Full Background Investigation requirement for all potential new hires.  A thorough background investigation for employment was not conducted on four police employees. An updated background investigation has since been completed on these police employees, the report said.

The Department lacked consistency in obtaining psychological assessments for all police personnel. Two officers were disqualified from continued employment or entrance to the Police Academy based upon a negative Fit for Duty Evaluation, the report said.

The department implemented an updated Body Armor/Bullet Proof Vest Policy for all patrol personnel after some patrol officers were found not wearing theirs. It also implemented "two officers minimum" assigned per shift. 

The review also found radar units had not been installed in all marked patrol vehicles and officers were either not current or not certified to use them.

Finally, the department lacked tasers and did not have a detective.

"I am proud of the work we have done to assist the Lavallette Police Department," Billhimer said. "I'm optimistic that Chief LaCicero will lead these men and women effectively moving forward."


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