Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cape May County Sheriff releases Internal Affairs records for 2012 and 2013

On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, just three days before an Order to Show Cause hearing before Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson, Cape May Assistant County Counsel James B. Arsenault, Jr. provided my lawyer, Donald M. Doherty of West Berlin, rosters showing internal affairs matters that were filed against county corrections officers and other county employees.  The disclosure mooted my lawsuit, Paff v. Cape May County and Elizabeth Bozzelli, Board Clerk, Docket No. CPM-L-373-14.

Typically, law enforcement internal affairs (IA) records are strictly confidential.  But, IA records pertaining to corrections officers are treated differently..

N.J.A.C. 10A:34-1.6(a)(2) makes corrections officers' internal affairs records confidential but only to the extent that "redaction of information would be insufficient to protect the safety of any person or the safe and secure operation of a detention facility."  And, the Attorney General's Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures (IAPP) Manual, which generally confers confidentiality of IA matters, excludes "county correctional agencies" from its scope.

Since the County could not show how disclosing its corrections department's IA records would imperil "any person or the safe and secure operation of a detention facility," it determined that it could not  satisfy its burden of proof under OPRA and decided to disclose the records in full.

The twenty pages of records I received, which are on-line here, show that nearly every complaint that was brought by the warden or other jail officer ended up with an inposition of discipline while those that were brought by inmates or the public ended up being dismissed.

Also revealed were two criminal complaints against county employees, one against Ed S. Beamon for allegedly passing a bad check and the other against Kathleen James for allegedly selling Adderall to an undercover police officer.  Both criminal complaints are at the link above and I do not know the final disposition of either of them.  It appears that Kathleen James is the same employee who had a pit bull removed from her leg by an inmate on September 17, 2011.  See news article here.