NEWARK -- A city police officer has been suspended for six months for failing to arrest drivers found to have warrants for their arrests, Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said in a statement Wednesday.
"I will not tolerate officers taking shortcuts or failing to do their job. The majority of our officers work extremely hard and risk their lives daily doing so. This young officer needs to accept his discipline and to return to work with a compliant and positive work ethic. If he doesn't, there is no room for him in the Newark Police Division," Ambrose said.
Citing "administrative reasons," Ambrose declined to release the name of the 27-year-old officer, who has been on the force for two years. He was suspended Wednesday following an administrative hearing and will receive training when he returns to the job in January, Ambrose also said.
A routine audit earlier this year of footage captured on the officer's body and dash cams showed the police officer stopping a motorist for a traffic violation. A computer check of the motorist's information showed that the motorist was wanted on an outstanding warrant, but the officer failed to make an arrest and only issued a ticket, Ambrose said.
A subsequent investigation by the police division's Integrity Control Officer revealed that the officer had let several other wanted motorists go.
A police spokesman reached Wednesday said the suspects were wanted for both traffic violations and for criminal matters.
James Stewart, president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, noted that cameras help hold police guilty of wrongdoing accountable, including "this young cop" who is "paying a heavy price for his failure to make several arrests as he was bound to do."
But Stewart also said that the cameras can and should be used to discourage wrongful accusations against police by members of the public.
"I can only hope that when citizens make accusations against our officers that are subsequently found to be false via the same body camera footage review that our administration authorizes charges for making false police reports with the same vigor," he said.
A total of 80 police officers have been equipped with body cameras donated by Panasonic, which also provided 15 dash cams. The cameras have been in use in the 5th Precinct under a pilot program launched in April.
Also this year, Ambrose said, the division brought back Integrity Control officers, ranking members charged with monitoring officers' activity in order to identify and correct any potentially problematic behavior.