EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION : Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said that “any police officer who is disturbed by” the way that North Bergen Chief William Galvin handled the case of a school official taken into custody after a drunken argument should speak to county investigators.
A key figure has emerged in the case:
(But don’t forget to come back.)
DeFazio’s comments came after
revealed that Galvin came to headquarters in the middle of the night and ordered the release — without charges — of the vice principal, whose mother is dating Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
“In the best of all worlds, we’d have a copy of the original [arrest] report,” DeFazio emphasized. “THAT would be interesting.”
Sacco said his office is aware of the incident but that he didn’t have all the particulars to be able to render an immediate decision on whether an investigation by his office or Attorney General Paula Dow’s is warranted.
“I need to know more,” the prosecutor said. That, he said, would come from police themselves.
“If they feel uncomfortable coming to us, they can go to the Attorney General’s Office,” DeFazio told
, during a phone interview late yesterday afternoon.
Galvin came to North Bergen Police headquarters at 1 a.m. May 14, the night of the NBHS Senior Prom. There, he ordered the release of an apparently intoxicated Edward Somick, who less than an hour earlier confronted officers trying to break up an argument between him and his neighbor, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Witnesses said Somick had argued with the 18-year-old Hispanic neighbor over a parking space, calling him a four-letter racial epithet. When police arrived, they said, Somick turned on them, cursing a ranking officer. He was handcuffed and taken to headquarters in a police cruiser, as a radio transmission went out, indicting that Somick had been arrested.
Then the chief showed up at headquarters, along with his heir apparent, Capt. Robert Dowd.
“Don’t you know who he is?” they reportedly asked one of two sergeants involved in the arrest, a source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . Somick, whose mother is dating Mayor Nicholas Sacco, has several relatives who work for the North Bergen Board of Education, including his mother and brothers.
Galvin went along for the ride as Dowd personally drove Somick back home, numerous sources have told the news site.
The series of CLIFFVIEW PILO T articles detailing the incident “by themselves, are not going to do it without corroboration” from at least one officer in the department, DeFazio said.
“If an officer is saying that he was ordered to alter his report or was told to do something untoward,” his investigators will be all over it, the prosecutor said.
“In the best of all worlds, we’d have a copy of the original report,” DeFazio emphasized. “THAT would be interesting.”
DeFazio was told that police might be tentative about coming forward, because Galvin issued an order two months ago that all officers, regardless of rank, must notify him whenever they contact an outside law enforcement agency for any reason.
However, the prosecutor told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that the order isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if its sole purpose isn’t to keep department brass in the loop when investigations cross jurisdictional borders.
“Certainly that order couldn’t be used as a shield for criminality or misconduct,” DeFazio said.
THE CLIFFVIEW PILOT INVESTIGATION
Township spokesman’s answers raise questions
Cops ready to talk to investigators
Chief ordered disorderly principal released without charges
Dispatches tell whether school VP linked to Sacco got special treatment
NBHS official not accused in neighborhood spat
In the March 23 memo, obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT , Galvin ordered that any officer in his department, “regardless of rank or assignment, [who] contacts any other law enforcement agency for any purpose must immediately submit a separate memorandum directly to the Chief of Police detailing the date, time, and reason they contacted said agency. (A copy of the order is printed below.)
“This shall include any calls or correspondence to any law enforcement agency, including but not limited to, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, State Attorney General’s Office, State Police, or the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office,” Galvin wrote.
On the one hand, ranking officers elsewhere say, it’s important that the brass know when investigations cut across borders. DeFazio agreed. However, the wording of the memo is much broader.
“If an officer wants to report a crime within the department and goes to the outside, no administration would ever discipline him,” one North Jersey police chief told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .Sacco (center), Galvin (left), Somick
“Officers by statute are required to report criminal activity,” the chief said, “and if they feel they cannot go within, then the next logical step is an outside agency. If he does, he is protected by the Whistleblower Act.
“If the Department is so corrupt that he needs outside help, then by all means the policy does not apply. Reporting criminal activity is a statutory responsibility for Police Officers and therefore trump any administrative rules.”
Galvin has refused to answer any questions about the incident from CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM . He also has refused to produce reports generated by the incident, even though the case number for the original report — #10021610 — was cited.
Instead, police officials apparently tried to broker an arrangement:
“Chief [William F.] Galvin and Captain Dowd have told me that they would be willing to let you look at a copy of the report in the Chief’s office [Thursday],” township spokeperson Philip Swibinski wrote on May 19, “so you can read it and this whole matter can be ended.”
CLIFFVIEW PILOT refused, as a matter of policy. Instead, the site emailed 10 questions to Galvin through Swibinski on May 20, requesting answers within 24 hours.
“Somick was not arrested,” Swibinski responded. “We have no further comment.”
He has not responded to any inquiries since, including a specific OPRA request from CLIFFVIEW PILOT for the original report.
Sacco, meanwhile, has not responded to either phone messages or emails.