SOMERSET, NJ - Yesterday was the first day of the Somerset County Prosecutor's office takeover of the Franklin Township Police Department after the council unanimously voted to approve the measure during its June 11 regular meeting.
The Chief of Detectives of the SCPO, John Fodor will replace Police Chief Richard Grammar who along with Captain Gregory Borlan recently announced their retirement effective as of June 30.
The Township Council made the decision behind closed doors during an executive session. During that session, it was decided by the council "that it is in the best interests of the municipality" to appoint Fodor as the officer in charge of the FTPD, according to the resolution.
While it’s not typical for the council to introduce a resolution so suddenly, Township Attorney Louis Rainone said that after consulting with the county prosecutor’s office the township determined that “there was some action that needed to be taken tonight," Rainone said during the June 11 meeting.
Township Manager, Bob Vornlocker did say Fodor will handle the department’s day-to-day operations, as well as oversee an evaluation of the department by the county prosecutor’s office to “ensure that the policies, procedures, personnel and operations of the department are best in class.”
The SCPO spokesperson declined to comment when asked, what does the evaluation entail, or if Grammar or Borlan are being investigated.
Vornlocker stressed that the evaluation by the county prosecutor shouldn’t be taken as a slight to police officers in the township.
“This action is a further indication that your mayor and council have the public's safety as their number one priority and continue to strive for improvements in the delivery of these services,” he said during the June 11 meeting.
While at this time little is known why the takeover had to happen, some published reports by New Jersey Advanced media indicate the takeover was a result of a criminal investigation into police officer Matthew Ellery.
There is no arrest/booking sheet, body/dash camera footage of the incident according to the FTPD.
However, an incident report on the matter is with the SCPO and cannot be released because “any records pertaining to an investigation in progress by any public agency if disclosure of such record or records shall be detrimental to the public interest,” shall be exempt from release while the investigation is ongoing, according to an OPRA request response.
The council voted to approve Grammar 7-2 during the December 12, 2017 council meeting after coming out of an executive session.
Councilman Carl A. Wright, and former Councilwoman At-Large, Shanel Robinson who now serves as Somerset County Freeholder voted against Grammar's approval.
Mayor Phil Kramer, former Councilwoman Rozlyn Sherman, Councilman James Vassanella, Councilman At-Large Rajiv Prasad, Councilwoman At-Large Kimberly Francois, Councilman Theodore Chase, and Councilman Charles Onyejiaka all voted to approve Grammar.