NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Robert Rawls, New Brunswick’s fire director, is back behind the wheel of a city-owned vehicle.
Rawls reportedly pleaded guilty in August 2014 to careless driving. That move stemmed from an earlier incident in which he struck three children in a crosswalk with a city-owned SUV, according to news reports.
After the crash, New Brunswick banned the veteran fire official from driving city vehicles. But officials in mid-February restored that ability, City Administrator Thomas Loughlin III said during a recent City Council meeting.
“The mayor made that decision in consultation with Robert,” Loughlin said. “It is important to his ability to manage the department to be able to move around freely in a city vehicle.”
When questioned by a resident, Loughlin said he was “sure Mr. Rawls’ driving record was a consideration” in restoring his driving privileges.
Several news outlets have reported that Rawls has been involved in 19 car crashes.
“The fact that he also took a defensive-driving course and has a driving record deemed in good standing by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle [Commission] was also a factor,” Loughlin added.
In October, the New Brunswick City Council approved the purchase of a 2017 Chevy Tahoe for Rawls’ official use. The city paid $35,124 to Hertrich Fleet Services of Delaware.
While Rawls was present at last week’s city council meeting, he didn’t discuss his renewed approval to drive city-owned vehicles. He didn’t return messages left by TAPinto New Brunswick today with his office.