YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Sussex County councilman who stirred a firestorm with anti-police cartoons and comments resigned this morning, following a meeting last night that drew an overflow crowd of protesters calling for his ouster.
David Fanale cited “excessive stress to his family and loved ones as the reason for his resignation,” Franklin Borough Mayor Paul B. Crowley said in a two-sentence news release.
New Jersey State Corrections Officer Sean Kelly said he and his fellow officers are pleased with the outcome.
“His beliefs and how he feels about law enforcement have no place in local government,” Kelly told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The hard working men and women in his town are now in a better place with him no longer in office.”
Kelly called it “despicable” for Fanale to say some of the things he did — comparing police officers to criminals and referring to them as “pigs,” “bullies” and “thugs,” for instance — after he and his fiancée were stopped by Roxbury police last year.
“To piss on the graves of fallen officers publicly — that’s beyond the bounds of decency and respect,” Kelly told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Fanale removed the offensive image after protestors began organizing online — particularly through the Facebook group “ David Fanale Franklin, NJ, Councilman Has to Go .”
He replaced it with one of actor Tom Lennon from the Comedy Central show, “Reno 911″ ( above ).
That was, in turn, replaced by a cartoon of the Cartman character from “South Park” mooning.
More than 200 people — including police from as far as Ocean County — attended last night’s council meeting. Some carried signs that said “Dump Fanale” and “Stop Hate, Fanale Must Go.”
Fanale didn’t attend the meeting.
He was at a Roxbury council meeting, accusing police there of “whitewashing” an internal affairs complaint that he filed following what he insisted was an “unconstitutional” traffic stop on May 21, 2013.
“These two men got psychiatric problems,” Fanale said of the officers who stopped him and his fiancée. “They need serious help…. I don’t have enough adjectives to explain how annoyed I am.”
Fanale also told the Roxbury council that he was resigning his post in Franklin.
VIDEO of Fanale last night:
“I am very proud to be a part of such a cohesive and strong group in law enforcement,” FOP President (and Bergen County resident) Nevin Mattessich told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . (The local represents 25 officers from Franklin, Ogdensburg and Hamburg.)
“We in Franklin are anxious to return our full attention to keeping the community safe and crime-free, as we have always been dedicated to doing,” Mattessich said.
“Sure, we believe in and support freedom of speech,” Craig Polen, who administers the 15,000-member “LEO-Only” message board, added. “But that thin blue line has come to represent fallen officers and their families. And in that picture, he is desecrating these people and those memories.
“That is beyond an insult to the law enforcement community in general. It insults those who gave their lives in the line of duty protecting you, me, our homes and our families.”
Fanale got flak in his own town after he went on Facebook to criticize a Franklin Borough officer who was injured while helping to rescue pets during a fire at a Route 23 shop in February.
Fanale, who joined the council last December, essentially said that an officer who enters a “hazardous situation” where “no human life is at risk…isn’t a hero, he’s a fool.”
The officer, Fanale said, “deliberately placed himself in a dangerous scenario, unnecessarily placed his well-being at risk, and is NOT deserving of ‘hero’ status, but rather, disciplinary action.”
That was tame compared to what came next.
Claiming that he and his fiancée were intimidated during the Roxbury stop, Fanale called the department’s officers “pigs” and “maggots of society.”
“The truth is; (sic) the only difference between the punks in blue and the bad guys they lock up are the uniforms which there are forced to wear; (sic) blue or prison orange,” says Fanale’s post, titled, “Roxbury Law Enforcers are PIGS! (Now that I have your attention …).
“If you’re an honest American, and honest with yourself, perhaps it’s time you don’t remain silent and begin to speak out against that evil which oppresses each and every resident of this state … law enforcement.” ( READ THE FULL POST BELOW )
Records show that Fanale was ticketed for having a cracked windshield — and paid the $55 fine.
“You can be upset if you want when you’ve had a bad experience,” Polen said. “In fact, there are some bad apples out there who do make it tougher for the 99% of good cops.
“But that’s no reason to desecrate the memories of those who’ve fallen, or to cause unnecessary anguish for their survivors.”
Polen’s group has raised $32,000 so far this year for Christmas shopping sprees for the children of officers killed in the line of duty.
Last year, Jake Abraham had a holiday to remember at Toys R Us. The mildly autistic youngster — whose father, Teaneck Police Officer John Abraham, was killed in a car crash four years ago — left with Xbox games and other presents he wanted.
Other youngsters treated to toys included the offspring of Jersey City Police Sgt. Mark DiNardo, who was killed by a crazed gunman in July 2009, days short of his 39th birthday.
“People in his position are supposed to have the best interests of their township or borough or city at heart,” Polen told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “How can he fairly do that with an open mind when this is how he feels?”
“There are a lot of good officers out there, risking their lives and doing their jobs every day. And whenever there are shots fired, they’re running toward it,” he added. “Through his words, Fanale is putting officers at risk by basically telling the public not to trust them.”