HACKENSACK, N.J. — City officials will be immediately demanding that the New Jersey Civil Service Commission reject an administrative law judge’s non-binding recommendation that five former Hackensack Police Officers she found had engaged in evidence tampering and an illegal warrantless search of a residence only receive lengthy suspensions, rather than be terminated from the Hackensack Police Department.
Judge Susana E. Guerrero upheld nearly all of the serious charges brought by the City against the five officers in her recommendation, yet opted to recommend that the officers not be terminated. Instead, she proposed suspensions ranging from 90 to 150 days. In her decision, Judge Guerrero found that the City had proven the officers’ reports included “knowingly false, misleading and inaccurate information” and that “the warrantless search of the apartment was unjustified and improper.” The City will be filing what are known as “exceptions” with the Civil Service Commission, which under New Jersey law has the power to make the final determination as to the appropriate penalty for the officers’ now-proven misconduct. The five officers will remain off of the force at least until that decision is rendered.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see a judge make this recommendation, which if confirmed would only create more instability and uncertainty at the Hackensack Police Department at a time when it’s finally making real strides away from its troubled past,” said Mayor John Labrosse. “These officers broke the law and they should face the appropriate consequences for their actions. We are confident that the Civil Service Commission will take these facts into consideration so our police department can move forward without this disruption.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, then serving as Bergen County Prosecutor, took the extraordinary step in 2017 of dismissing several active criminal cases that the officers were involved in, citing “credibility issues.” Grewal’s actions underscore the importance of removing these officers from the Hackensack Police Department permanently in order to ensure effective policing and community trust.