NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – A retired State Trooper of Virginia and Maryland, Reginald Garrett, showed up at the Monday, Dec. 4 Council meeting to recount a recent traffic stop in New Providence. According to Garrett the traffic stop was questionable and based on racial profiling. Additionally, Patrolman Nicholas Guerriero acted unprofessionally during the traffic stop according to Garrett.
Garrett explained that on Nov. 13 he drove from Delaware to visit a friend who had just given birth at Overlook Hospital. Garrett explained that his white Mercedes with Delaware plates has tinted windows. However, the patrolman had clearly seen through the windshield that the driver of the vehicle was an African-American male wearing a knit hat, Garrett claimed.
After stopping, Garrett placed both hands on the open window and stated his status as a retired state trooper. He handed the patrolman his license, registration, and an expired insurance card. Garrett explained that he later located the current insurance card in his vehicle. According to Garrett Guerriero told him that should he ever consider moving to New Jersey his tinted windows would be illegal. Garrett in turn advised the patrolman that he thought the traffic stop was questionable. He stated that he has never been stopped by a New Jersey State Trooper although he comes to New Jersey regularly to visit family members and friends.
Garrett explained that he tried to engage in conversation with the patrolman telling him that he himself conducted some 13,000 traffic stops during his career. However, he said he felt “humiliated” during the traffic stop which lasted approximately 40 minutes. He said that he did not feel safe and called 911 to get a back-up patrolman to ease the confrontation. However, the dispatcher told him not to call again as the call was not an emergency. “I felt like nothing and got hung-up on” by the dispatcher.
Since the incident Garrett said that he has met with Lieutenant Justine Kennedy. I felt as though she defended Guerriero before watching the tape, Garrett said and noted that the Berkeley Heights Police Department took his concerns more seriously.
Garrett asked the council if the incident presents “a window of opportunity for change” in the New Providence Police Department. He suggested some kind of sensitivity training for police officers.
“I feel sorry that you felt wronged,” Mayor Al Morgan told Garrett and advised that he can bring this issue to the attention of higher state authorities.
Neither Lieutenant Kennedy nor Patrolman Guerriero was present at the meeting. However, the department issued the following press release regarding the incident: “The New Providence Police Department accepts and investigates all complaints against our agency and its employees. Mr. Garrett’s complaint and allegations were taken very seriously by our Internal Affairs Unit. His complaint was thoroughly investigated in accordance with NJ Attorney General Guidelines and he was notified of the outcome. We are unable to discuss specifics related to the investigation as it is an internal affairs matter.”