Maplewoodian by Joe Strupp

Township’s Goodbye Kiss to Police Chief

abb729a0166ff022c200_joehead.jpg
abb729a0166ff022c200_joehead.jpg

The retirement agreement with former Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino, which includes a golden parachute of nearly $280,000 through the end of 2018, might make some forget that he was forced out for not doing his job properly.

The agreement, revealed in a lengthy announcement Wednesday from the Township, indicates Cimino will get a $280,000 payout, which includes $49,479 in accumulated sick, vacation and personal days required by law for any departing employee.

But he will also receive another $230,000 in what is described only as two “payments” of $115,000 each – the first by January 2018 and the second by January 2019.

Sign Up for E-News

On top of that, the Township will pay Cimino’s attorney fees to the tune of $15,000.

But the most surprising part of the deal may be what amounts to two letters of recommendation.

As the Township release states:

Mr. Cimino will receive a letter stating that he served with dedication and professionalism for 36 years.

Mr. Cimino will receive a letter acknowledging he had no formal disciplinary actions sustained against him during his tenure as Chief of Police.

Why not a parade down Valley Street and a bouquet of roses, too?

Did they forget that less than two months ago the TC gave him a vote of no confidence, requested his resignation and placed him on administrative leave? All because he and several police officers were found to have acted improperly the night of the 2016 Township fireworks in reaction to large crowds and some unruly residents.

No formal disciplinary action? Served with dedication and professionalism? How can the Township say that about someone they wanted out of the job as soon as possible? Someone they voted no confidence in? 

Regardless of whether you believe the chief should be ousted or if his actions that night amount to a fireable offense, the TC’s previous pronouncements and criticism make this genuflecting deal tough to take.

These actions followed demands by many in the community that Cimino be dismissed in the wake of revelations of improper police abuse on July 5, 2016. Those included officers kicking at least one teen in the head and punching others.

The Township has hired an outside consultant, Hillard Heintze of Chicago, to review the incidents that night and the township’s overall police procedures. That report is expected soon.

Some of the strongest objections involved the police “herding” many youngsters toward the Irvington city line, including many who live in Maplewood.

Video and audio of those incidents, which followed that night’s fireworks display, were made public in late July 2017 after months of demands for them to be released.

The same week, the police also revealed that six officers had been disciplined for their actions that night, including one who was suspended for 20 days.

Just days later, on Aug. 1, the Township Committee called for Cimino to resign, held a unanimous vote of no confidence in him, and placed him and former police captain Joshua Cummis on paid leave.

Township Committee member Frank McGehee said that night that the events of July 5 were “sickening and disgusting,” later adding that “The abuse of power and poor leadership” on display that night led to the problems.

Mayor Vic Deluca proclaimed the TC “appalled by decisions made by the leadership of our police department.”

How you go from that to such glowing letters of support is hard to understand.

To be fair, the $280,000 payout is not a complete surprise given the time and money it would take to formally remove Cimino. As we reported weeks ago, state law can make it difficult, expensive and time-consuming to force the chief out if he does not want to go.

If Cimino refused to resign and the Township wanted him to leave, it would be required to hold a hearing either before the Township Committee or an independent hearing officer, William Kearns, general counsel for the New Jersey League of Municipalities, told me last month.

If Cimino objected to the findings and decision, he could appeal it to the Superior Court of Essex County and on through the regular appeals process, possibly all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Such a round of appeals could drag on for years and cost the township more than $280,000.

The Township release did admit as much, stating that: "faced with the prospects of extended and costly administrative and legal proceedings regarding this matter and a legal assessment which concluded there would be little likelihood of success in such proceedings, the Township Committee has reluctantly deemed it to be in the best interest of the Township to enter into this settlement. The settlement will successfully achieve the Township Committee’s overriding goal of not having Mr. Cimino return to his post as chief of the Maplewood Police Department."

It also noted that a previous investigation by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office found no cause for action against Cimino, which apparently tied the township’s hands:

As result of the Essex County Prosecutor's investigation and findings, the Township is legally precluded from issuing any discipline to Mr. Cimino regarding the events of July 5, 2016. Therefore, a settlement with Mr. Cimino, as recommended and approved by the Township's legal counsel, is the best option to ensure that Mr. Cimino no longer serves as the Chief of the Maplewood Police Department.

Add to that the recent lawsuit by former Police Captain Joshua Cummis, who was suspended along with Cimino and recently retired. His suit claims he was not given due process and could well cost the Township more cash. 

So one might say if you want to criticize anyone for the costly payout, look to the state and county officials and policies.

But to agree to provide letters of recommendation that paint Cimino as an outstanding employee and someone who received no disciplinary action is the height of hypocrisy.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

South Orange Police Blotter - iPhone Reported Stolen from Basketball Courts

June 21, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 21

Burglary - The owner of a business on Vose Avenue reported that sometime between 12:45 p.m., Sunday, June 17,  and 10 a.m., Monday, June 18, actor(s) unknown forcibly gained access to the business through the front door, rummaged through cabinets and desks and removed some personal items (including Bose brand speakers ...

South Orange Police Blotter: Robbery Reported on South Orange Avenue

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 16

Robbery - An Alpha, NJ resident reported that he was robbed on Sunday, June 3, at approximately 12:30 a.m. while he was walking on South Orange Avenue near Scotland Road. The victim stated that he was approached by three unknown actors who punched him and knocked him to the ground. The actors then stole his cell phone and wallet ...

SOMA Celebrates Pride with Painted Lampposts in South Orange and Crosswalks in Maplewood

June 22, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Earlier this month, Maplewood celebrated Pride by painting rainbow crosswalks outside of Town Hall at the intersection of Oakview Avenue and Valley Street, which were unveiled with a celebration and ribbon cutting on Thursday, June 6.

Inspired by the Maplewood crosswalks, on Thursday evening, June 21, South Orange recognized Pride month by having community ...

Fifth Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids Postponed Until September Due to South Orange Pool Still Being Closed

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 5th Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids, originally scheduled to be held in South Orange on Saturday, June 16, has been postponed until Saturday, September 8, according to an update on the South Orange website. 

 

The postponement is because the South Orange Community Pool is still closed for the season due to construction delays with the filter ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, June 26, 6:30 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Memoir Writing Class at Millburn Library

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, June 29, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_ab87d453f7ef0862e666_2018montage2804x956-3

Tue, July 3, 4:30 PM

Maplewood Memorial Park, Maplewood

First Time Ever July 3rd Circus Performances and ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Other

Lecia Bianca Jewels Creates a Bridge to Make Bloomfield Center the Next Style Destination

June 16, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Center renaissance continues as Lecia Bianca Jewels becomes a style destination on main thoroughfare in this Essex County Community. Lecia Clay, owner of the boutique, describes her jewelry as 'bridge jewelry,' - pieces that are in a space between costume jewelry and fine jewelry, while having value. 

'Lecia Bianca' is the ...

Record Number Attends West Essex YMCA's Sixth Annual Bike Livingston

LIVINGSTON, NJ — On the heels of National Bike Safety Month in May, a new record of nearly 500 Livingston riders participated in the sixth annual Bike Livingston event, a family-oriented bike tour of Livingston’s neighborhoods hosted each year by the West Essex YMCA on the first Sunday in June.

With three routes to choose from—a four-mile route around the ...

Newark Cop Convicted of Reckless Manslaughter for 2016 Fatal Shooting of Piscataway Man

June 22, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ – A Newark police officer was convicted of reckless manslaughter in the death of a man outside Paddy’s Place in Union in May 2016, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Wednesday.

The officer, Joseph Macchia, 37, was convicted of fatally shooting 37-year-old Michael Gaffney of Piscataway following an argument and fight at Paddy’s ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced ...

Welcome To South Orange, Drive 25!

June 22, 2018

With very few exceptions, the speed limit throughout the Village is 25 miles per hour.

Along with barbeques, trips down the shore, and local ice cream runs, July and August mark the summer driving season. If you are driving in, or through South Orange, that means driving at 25 miles per hour. “Welcome to South Orange, now drive 25” says Lt. Michael Corrigan, the head of the SOPD ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - June 22 to June 28

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Chobani Yogurt 32oz $6.99
Friendly’s Ice Cream 48floz $3.99
Turkey Hero $5.99 ea (Deli)
Brad’s Blues Tortilla Chips  $2.99
Housemade Premade Lemonade 16oz $4.99 (Bakery)
Red Wax Gouda $5.99lb ...

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019 and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it will award a total of 13 grants to 11 local community non-profit organizations in its nine-county service area for 2018-2019, with an increase in total program funding at 15% year over year. Since its founding in 1997, Komen North Jersey has awarded nearly $19 million to local community programs in nine North Jersey counties and has directed more than ...