LIVINGSTON, NJ – Police Reports obtained by TheAlternativePress.com paint a conflicting picture regarding the recently disclosed Livingston SWAT exercise held on April 19. Township Manager Michelle Meade's account of the event and its aftermath differs substantially from that of Sgt. Kenneth Hanna and Officer Charles Mollineaux.
Township Manager Michelle Meade’s Report
According to the report initiated by Meade, she received a call on April 19 from Jen Hessberger, Director of SYLS at the Community Center saying that a teacher from the pre-school reported seeing a man in full camouflage army outfit which included face paint and an exposed weapon. Hessberger reported to Meade that a man was crouching beside a car and he could be seen from the pre-school. When Meade arrived at the Community Center the person was gone so she walked onto the property to find out what was going on.
While speaking to Hanna she said she noticed a woman taking pictures of her. She asked the woman why she was taking pictures of her and the lady responded that she was told to. Meade started to approach the woman when Charlie Mollineaux stepped directly in front of her.
Meade’s report reads, “Face to face some words may have been exchanged. He stated, ‘I’m a police officer.’” Meade said that she went to step around him but Mollineaux stepped in front of her again and pushed her backwards. She informed Hanna that Mollineaux pushed her.
According to Meade’s report, the incident was witnessed by Hessberger and possibly Hanna. It also stated that there were other police officers on the scene. Police Chief Craig Handschuch was notified and arrived. A complaint may be signed at a later date.
Sergeant Kenneth Hanna’s Report
On May 2, Hanna made the following report concerning the same incident that occurred on April 19 during an authorized ESU team training exercise conducted by the Essex County Police Academy. This training consisted of basic SWAT and advanced room clearing. The final exercise was held on the Dubrow’s Nursery property, located at 247 W. Northfield Rd. The training exercise, which began on April 19 at 8:30 a.m. included officers from the Livingston, Bloomfield, Belleville, Millburn and Little Silver police departments. Chief Handschuch, Captain Gary Marschuetz and Patrol Commander John Kelly were advised in advance of the training being conducted. A list of training exercises and their locations was provided to dispatcher Craig Parker at Lieutenant Kelly’s request.
According to Hanna, several lengthy meetings were held with the captain, chief and administrative assistant well in advance of the weeklong training. One-week prior to the training, everyone, including the township and Marschuetz, was provided with a detailed written itinerary of the plan.
“Finally, on Wednesday, April 17, I made it a point to speak with Captain Marschuetz personally to request that he attend the Friday training exercise. He agreed and promised to be there at 9 a.m. However, on April 19, Captain Marschuetz did not show up until noon.”
The exercise conducted on Friday morning consisted of mock scenarios involving a potentially armed suspect wanted on a drug warrant. Participants were split into two groups: one awaiting the call for response to the simulated scenario (at Northfield Firehouse), and a smaller group on site at the Dubrow’s property.
Participants in the area at the time of the incident on the Dubrow’s property included:
Sgt. Ken Hanna (Livingston PD) – Incident Commander – Dubrow’s Property
Lt. Mike Mulligan (Millburn PD) – Dubrow’s Property
Off. Charlie Mollineaux (Belleville PD), Lead Instructor – Dubrow’s Property
Off. Frank Salerno (Little Silver PD) – Dubrow’s Property
Off. Vince Daly (Livingston PD) – Dubrow’s Property
Kelly Mollineaux (Civilian Photographer) – Dubrow’s Property
The exercise was proceeding according to plan and the participants were all in place when they heard sirens. They heard on the radio that the police were responding to the Community Center where Daly was stationed. Hanna said that he immediately switched the radio channel to LPD channel one and advised all responding units that Daly (at the Community Center) was participating in the ESU training.
Hanna’s report said that he heard an officer radio that he was checking the situation at the Community Center. Within moments, Daly appeared on the Dubrow’s property. He explained to Hanna that he was leaning up against his unmarked police car, parked on the Community Center property, awaiting the signal to proceed to the Dubrow’s property. He was approached by a township employee name Mike who asked what he was doing. Daly advised Mike that he was a Livingston Police Officer involved in a training exercise.
Hanna states in his report, “As Daly and I spoke we observed two women walking towards us through the woods from the area of the Community Center. As they came close, we observed that one of the two women was Livingston Township Manager, Michelle Meade. The other woman was later identified at township employee, Jen Hessberger.”
“It was apparent that Ms. Meade was highly agitated. Upon arrival at our location Ms. Meade came very close to me (within six inches) and began shouting in my face. Upon approaching me Ms. Mead inquired as to what I was doing. Her exact words were, ‘Sgt. Hanna, what are you doing?’ I calmly explained to her that the ESU team, in conjunction with the Essex County Police Academy, was conducting a training session. Meade then asked, ‘Why wasn’t I notified?’ I attempted to explain to Ms. Meade that the training was authorized by the Chief and Captain, but she continued to scream at me.”
Hanna reported that Meade responded by saying, “Why the f*** was a man dressed in full camouflage on my property, Community Center, walking around with guns in his hands? I have a school over there with teachers and kids who were scared to death and [they] had to go on lockdown! What kind of f*** operation are you running here?”
Hanna said that he apologized to Meade for the miscommunication. He explained that he and another officer were going around to the neighbors to tell them what they were doing. He also explained that he was unaware that Daly was on the Community Center grounds prior to them being notified. “I subsequently learned that officer Daly’s weapons were not exposed…and that no children had observed Off. Daly at the Community Center as Ms. Meade had claimed.”
Hanna reported that Mollineaux, as the lead instructor, attempted to diffuse the situation by saying, “Michelle, can I shed some light on this and help explain?” Meade responded by saying, “Charlie, shut your mouth. I’m talking to Sgt. Hanna.”
When Meade turned to speak to Mollineaux she saw that Kelly Mollineaux, a civilian who was asked to document the exercise, was taking photographers of the exchange. Hanna’s report reads, “Ms. Meade turned to Kelly Mollineaux and said something to the effect of, ‘Why are you taking pictures of me? Stop taking pictures of me! Sergeant, I order you to have her stop taking pictures of me and delete (them) in front of you. Am I clear?’”
“I said to Kelly, ‘We’re not role playing now, so you don’t need to take pictures.’ Kelly lowered her camera, and I then saw Ms. Meade begin to walk toward Kelly. Meade was extremely agitated, and her movements towards Kelly were obviously aggressive. Off. Mollineaux stepped in between Kelly and Ms. Meade. Meade said ‘Charlie, get out of my way.’”
Hanna said that he then observed Mollineaux raise his hand, palm facing out. Mollineaux said, “Michelle stop where you are. You are acting in a very aggressive manner.” Michelle pointed at Mollineaux and responded by saying, “Charlie, you’re on my f*** property. Get out of my way.”
At this point in the report, Hanna noted that they were on Dubrow’s property and not on the Township’s. Hanna’s report went on to say that Meade continued to yell in Mollineaux’s face and he again warned her to back off. Mollineaux said, “Ma’am, get your hand out of my face.”
Hanna’s report then said, “I then observed Ms. Meade lunge forward at Off. Mollineaux, at which point her body struck his hand, which was still at his chest, palm out. At no time did I observe Off. Mollineaux make any aggressive movement toward, or in any way strike, Ms. Meade. Ms. Meade immediately turned toward me and began shouting, ‘I was assaulted! I was assaulted by Charlie! Sgt. Hanna, you’re a police officer, I order you to do something.’”
Hanna’s report then states that while he did visually and audibly witness the entire event, he did not observe an assault.
Officer Charles Mollineaux’s Report
Mollineaux’s report starts out by describing Meade as, “Agitated and Belligerent as she approached Hanna stating: ‘What the f*** are you doing here? Why wasn’t I notified?’” Mollineaux also reported that Meade used the workd “f***” often in the exchange.
The report continues by saying that “Meade then noticed Kelly Mollineaux taking photos and stated, ‘Why the f*** are you taking pictures? What are you doing?’”
Mollineaux saw Meade move towards Kelly Mollineaux with one hand closed and the other in a pointing gesture. He states that he believed Meade’s actions were “extremely aggressive” and that Meade lifted her hand in front of Kelly’s face. Kelly was now holding the camera at her chest and told Meade to take her hand away from her face and to back away. Off. Mollineaux’s report reads that “Meade then swatted at Kelly and, to him, it appeared she struck Kelly in the shirt or camera.”
Officer Mollineaux said that he then stepped between the women raising his hand to about face height and directed to Meade to stop what she was doing. He stated that he never touched Meade in anyway and then identified himself as a police officer. Mollineaux also noted that he was dressed in a “tactical uniform and carrying a sidearm.”
In response to Mollineaux, the report reads that Meade said, “Charlie I know who you are” and stated she knew he was a police officer. Mollineaux then said that Meade backed away and Hanna stated that he would handle the situation. Mollineaux reported that he then walked away to speak with his wife, Kelly.
According to Mollineaux, in addition to Hanna, himself and his wife being present, Daly, Millburn Police Lt. Michael Mulligan, and a Little Silver Police Officer were present as witnesses. He also stated that pictures from the event were still on Kelly’s camera. On April 22, Charles Mollineaux dropped off the CD with photos taken on April 19 to the LPD.
Over the weekend, Council member Debra Shapiro told TheAlternativePress.com that she was unhappy with the press release put out by the township last week. Shapiro stated, “I was not 100% comfortable with naming any individual because the head of the ESU was named and I don’t think it was appropriate to single any one person out.”
Shapiro also explained that she supported the investigation into the matter so that the situation could be rectified and so that an event like this will not happen in the future. Shapiro emphasized that she felt it should be a “purely administrative investigation.”
TheAlternativePress.com was also notified that a representative from the PBA will be at tonight’s Township Council meeting to raise concerns about the said exercise.