Friday, March 17, 2017

Bridgeton paid $8,800 to one suspended officer, declines to identify second suspended officer.

The Bridgeton City (Cumberland County) Council's November 14, 2016 closed session minutes indicate that two police officers "have been given administrative leave."  Given the timing, one of the officers would have almost certainly been Sergeant Luis Santiago who was arrested on November 10, 2016 for fourth degree sexual contact and offensive touching.  But, the identify of the second suspended officer and the nature of the conduct underlying his or her suspension are not obvious from media reports.

In her May 17, 2017 response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the "payroll records" of the two officers, Bridgeton Deputy Clerk Kathleen L. Keen provided a memo from Business Administrator Stephanie R. Bush-Baskette confirming that Santiago was suspended with pay on November 11, 2016 and then was suspended without pay on December 14, 2016.  The memo also disclosed that Santiago was paid $8,072.72 in wages and a $750 uniform allowance during his paid suspension.

In her March 16, 2017 e-mail, Keen wrote that "the City is unable to provide payroll information on the second officer" because it is exempt from disclosure under "N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1 (4)."  When interviewed today, Keen said that the investigation against the second officer was still active and that City was relying on OPRA's criminal investigatory records exemption to keep that officer's payroll record confidential.