HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri came under fire from both the public and his officers during the public discussion portion of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights Council meeting Tuesday night.
PBA 102 President John Schwedhelm addressed the Council on behalf of the Patrol Division, which was represented in the audience by approximately a dozen members.
“I am here tonight to represent the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department Patrol Division, “Schwedhelm stated. “They asked me to read this statement on their behalf, so not one member would be singled out or targeted by any type of investigation.”
“As members of the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department Patrol Division, we feel we have been left no choice but to come forth with a vote of no confidence in the leadership abilities of Chief Michael Colaneri.
“We do not intend for this to reflect poorly on the current Mayor and Council, as the problem has existed for a long period of time.
"Chief Colaneri has led this department, that is rampant with nepotism, workplace harassment, intimidation and fear.
"As a result of his actions, statements and policy decisions, the department’s morale has deteriorated and officer safety standards have diminished.
"Any department member who questions his decisions, or seeks to improve working conditions, is subjected to harassment, including the threat/reality of Internal Affairs investigations from his son, Lt. Michael Colaneri Jr.
"We no longer have the confidence in Chief Colaneri to act in good faith, to lead unbiasedly, and to communicate effectively to support all officers equally.
"As a result, we are requesting a full investigation into the police department.
"We wish to make ourselves available to the Mayor and Council, to provide any further details or provide any further information about any questions that may arise.
"We hope this can begin a dialog to discuss the department’s future, and will start the process of eliminating the divisive culture and hostile work environment that has become commonplace in the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department.
"I ask you as the President of the PBA to please consider these suggestions.”
“I will consult with the Borough Attorney and our Labor Attorney and find the best way to proceed, “ stated Hasbrouck Heights Mayor Jack DeLorenzo. “I can tell you, we will get back to you. We will be going into closed session, at the end of the meeting to discuss this and our next steps.”
Hasbrouck Heights resident Vinny Romano, who identified himself as a retired Jersey City police officer, then approached the Council questioning whether Chief Colaneri was being investigated for a crime that occurred in Lodi.
“I cannot comment on that,” said Mayor DeLorenzo. “We have no formal notification of that, however, but I believe that there is an Internal Affairs investigation on this being conducted by the (Bergen County) Prosecutors office, and we will be notified by them when it is complete with recommendations. That is what I was told.”
"Until that happens, can we suspend him?" Romano asked.
"We are speaking with the attorneys now, and we will be going into closed session and discuss how we can move forward," DeLorenzo stated.
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