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Amid Protests, Maplewood Officials Call for Immediate Resignation of Police Chief

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Before a room at capacity and overflow crowds in the lobby at the Maplewood Municipal Court building, the Maplewood Township Committee unanimously passed a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, and requested the immediate resignation of Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino. Cimino will be on administrative leave, with pay, for 60 days, effective immediately.

The unanimous vote was by four of the five members of the Township Committee: Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca, Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams, India Larrier, and Frank McGehee. Committee member Greg Lembrich was not at the meeting due to a previously planned family vacation, and the other committee members emphasized that they had spoken to Lembrich, with De Luca stating that Lembirch was "very much involved in the decision."

Prior to the Maplewood Township Committee meeting, about 100 people rallied in protest of Maplewood police actions on July 5, 2016, following the fireworks display that night, and demanded Cimino's resignation with signs and chants of "Cimino has got to go."

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The protest, which organizers called "Justice Night Out," began with speakers at the Hilton Library gazebo, followed by a march to DeHart Park where Maplewood's National Night Out event was being held. In addition to marching around the event, Avery Julien, one of the protest organizers spoke to the crowd, stating the "only way to change this it to come and disrupt... this is my town, too."

Protesters left the National Night Out event and continued to the Maplewood Municipal Court building where the Township Committee was meeting at 8:30 p.m. 

De Luca clarified that Cimino would no longer be serving as police chief, effective immediately. "We will be taking his badge and his gun tonight. That's what administrative leave means," said De Luca.

De Luca also stated that the new acting chief was still to be determined, and that the decision would be made by the Township Committee soon.

In addition to the vote of no confidence in Cimino, the Township Committee also had a unanimous vote of no confidence in Capt. Joshua J. Cummis, who was placed on administrative leave with pay until August 31, effective immediately.

At the meeting, two consultants were introduced from the firm Hillard Heintze of Chicago, which has been retained to review the incident and the policies related to it. Last month the Maplewood Township Committee voted 5-0 on a resolution to the retain the firm at a rate of $29,000 for this review, which includes up to $5,850 in expenses for a total of $34,850. The consultants stated that they would have a report and recommendations completed by the end of September.

During the public comment period TJ Whitaker, one of the organizers of "Justice Night Out," said that he has been advocating for a year for a review of the events of July 5. Addressing the Township Committee, Whitaker said, "When I first came to you, I was by myself. This room was empty. I promised I would be back with the community. And here we are."

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