Monday, October 12, 2015

The Important Questions- re: Carver Report

This may only be of interest to those living in Glen Rock or those who have lived in Glen Rock. I think it's an important letter to post because it illustrates how out of control a town government and police upper management can become when they just go rogue and allowed to do whatever they want. So it might be of interest to others outside of town because you never know when it will happen in your own backyard.

Our town paid THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for a ridiculously worded report about the climate/culture in the current police department. It basically says that people like to go to work there so it will be fine eventually. It reads like marriage counseling notes.

This letter below, written by two current residents is amazingly more intelligent, professional, and comprehensive, than what we were given. The original report Rebecca & Kevin are responding to is at the bottom of this page.

Rebecca grew up in Glen Rock and moved back to Glen Rock in 2007.  She has two kids currently in the Glen Rock school system.  She is a lawyer licensed in California and New York and her law firm (Quadra & Coll) is based in California.  She travels a lot for work but fortunately can do most of her work from Glen Rock by telecommuting.

I always read her posts on the Glen Rock Facebook pages and feel like she is right on point. So I am happy to share her letter so anyone interested can see what's really going on. I knew bits and pieces of what was going on, but this was so much more eye-opening.

There is a council meeting this upcoming Wednesday October 14th, 2015. The judge is supposed to be there to answer any and all questions. Glen Rock Boro Hall. 8p.

Rebecca's (and Kevin Davitt's) letter:

                                                                                                                        Rebecca Coll
                                                                                                                        Glen Rock, NJ 07452

October 11, 2015


RE:  Judge Carver’s Report Regarding the Glen Rock Police Department

Dear Mayor van Keuren and Council Members:
This letter is to raise certain questions and concerns about the investigation and report conducted by Judge Carver relating to the Glen Rock Police Department, which was disclosed to the public on October 8, 2015.
Judge Carver’s report states he was retained to “investigate the Glen Rock Police Department, to take its pulse as it were, with a particular view to learning how the disciplinary charges for deletion of photographs form a 2005 retirement party came to be brought.”  Judge Carver goes on to state that, however, he is prevented from reporting on the origins of the charges against the two officers because of the pending charges against Detective Sergeant Eric Reamy.  The implication is that Judge Carver is nevertheless reporting on “the pulse” of the GRPD, and excluding only issues relating to the wrongful charges against Chris McInerney and Bryan Scott.
The investigation and report raise certain questions.
1.         Questions Regarding Choice of Investigator and Conflicts
a.       Given the foregoing scope and the brevity of the report, it was surprising to see that Judge Carver spent a full paragraph opining on the propriety of his own disciplinary action against Officer Stanislao.  It was also surprising that Judge Carver disclosed only his own interpretation and feelings about the hearing testimony (which is not available to the public, and with which Officer Stanislao would likely characterize differently).  The limited information disclosed about the circumstances of Officer Stanislao’s termination seems extremely one-sided.  Is there a conflict of interest for Judge Carver to investigate and opine on the propriety of his own interpretation of the evidence in the Stanislao hearing?  How is the Judge’s role as the investigator into the Stanislao matter not a conflict of interest?  
b.      Was it proper to disclose in this manner only the details relating to Officer Stanislao’s disciplinary matter that favor the town’s point of view, with no countervailing points raised?  Why was only the town’s point of view presented in this report? 
c.       Was it proper to disclose the details of the alleged complaint against Officer Stanislao in this context, especially without hearing the other side of the story, or was that a confidential personnel matter?
d.      Last May the council was asked whether it would be better to have a fresh start with a new impartial investigator, and whether it was a conflict for Judge Carver to be the investigator given his role in the Stanislao, McInerney, and Scott cases.  Mr. Garibaldi responded that a new investigator would have “set this back for quite a long time.”  In retrospect, do the council members and the mayor believe an impartial fresh set of eyes would have been more appropriate?
e.       The question was also asked whether the matter could simply be referred to the county prosecutor for investigation.  Mr. Garibaldi responded that the matters did not “rise to the level” that a prosecutor should be involved.  Now though, Judge Carver states that “inconsistencies” were brought to his possession indicating a “lack of response or attention by the GRPD management.”  He states these issues have been referred to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.  What are those inconsistencies?  Do those “inconsistencies” rise to the level of potential criminal conduct?  If so, why not clearly describe the conduct as Judge Carver did with his opinions about Officer Stanislao?  Why did Judge Carver believe it was appropriate to discuss what led to his decision to terminate Officer Stanislao, yet is safeguarding the personnel and privacy rights of everyone else?
2.         Questions Regarding Claims of Anti-Gay Culture: 
            In the State of New Jersey, it is illegal to discriminate against or harass a person on the basis of sexual orientation.  While the personnel allegations against Officer Stanislao are freely discussed, the serious allegations of anti-gay conduct by the GRPD are ignored in Judge Carver’s report and, presumably, his investigation.  Notwithstanding the apparent conflict of opining on his own decision, it was important for Judge Carver to investigate Officer Stanislao’s claims of an anti-gay culture at the police department, which is certainly relevant to “the pulse” of the police department.  For example: 
a.        Officer Stanislao claims in his lawsuit that Officer Reamy would “dry hump” Stanislao behind Stanislao’s back in front of other officers.  Did Judge Carver ask if that type of behavior was noticed, known or tolerated in the GRPD?  Did he ask if anyone witnessed that behavior, if they felt the management of the GRPD would tolerate that behavior, and why?
b.      Officer Stanislao claims in his lawsuit that he reported violations of rules by Reamy to Chief Stahman, and Reamy was never disciplined.  Did Judge Carver investigate whether management routinely failed to discipline Reamy, as alleged?
c.       Officer Stanislao claims in his lawsuit that Captain Miller, in response to Stanislao’s request for time off relating to high-risk throat surgeries, made a joke about Officer Stanislao’s “gag reflex” and that other officers also made anti-gay jokes to Officer Stanislao.   Did Judge Carver investigate whether that took place?
d.      Officer Stanislao claims in his lawsuit that an officer, in the presence of officers and supervisors, stated, “Stanislao is going to make the kids into a bunch of pussies because he’s a fucking faggot.”  Did Judge Carver investigate whether that took place?  If this happened in the presence of others, it seems like an appropriate area to cover in interviews of officers.
e.       Officer Stanislao claims in his lawsuit that an officer referred to him as “special” and stated that it was a relief not to work with him, and that Officer Stanislao reported this incident to Captain Miller.  Did Judge Carver investigate whether that took place, or whether discipline was imposed?  Officer Stanislao also states in his lawsuit that the same officer made a derogatory comment about Officer Stanislao having coffee with his boyfriend, Officer Stanislao reported that officer for sexual harassment and asked to not work with him.  Officer Stanislao states the response from the GRPD was to suggest that Officer Stanislao be placed instead with the officer who called him a “fucking faggot.”  Did Judge Carver investigate whether that took place?
f.       Was there any inquiry at all into whether the culture of the department is anti-gay, whether anti-gay behavior is tolerated or even encouraged, and what steps have been taken to ensure that the police department is complying with state anti-discrimination laws?
g.      At least one-third of a page in the three page report is devoted to the opinion of the Rodgers Group, which is an accreditation program.  What knowledge, if any, would the Rodgers Group have about any of the foregoing issues?
h.      Why does Judge Carver conclude that Officer Stanislao was not a “good fit?”  Was there any investigation into whether that alleged feeling has any relationship to his sexual orientation, given his experience with multiple named officers in his complaint?
i.        Did Judge Carver find during Officer Stanislao’s disciplinary hearing that he was not harassed for being gay?  If so, why did Chief Stahman falsely and paradoxically go after Chris McInerney for supposedly harassing Officer Stanislao?  Was that issue investigated? 
j.        What is the position of the Glen Rock Mayor and Council on the importance of investigating whether an anti-gay culture exists in the Glen Rock Police Department?  What plan does the Council have to investigate these claims?
3.         Questions Regarding Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment
 The report states that the circumstances relating to wrongful charges against Sgt. McInerney and Officer Scott are not being addressed in this report, presumably because the prosecutor has asked Judge Carver not to address that issue.  However, there are many allegations in the public domain which are not related to those charges which do not seem to have been addressed at all.  For example:
a.          Sgt. McInerney’s complaint stated that he was retaliated against by Chief Stahman before he even became the chief, for reporting sexual harassment at the GRPD.  He also claims that after almost ten years of a clean record, Sgt. McInerney was investigated and reprimanded by Chief Stahman 20 times after he reported sexual harassment.  Was that claim investigated?
b.         What is the position of the Glen Rock Mayor and Council on the importance of investigating whether its chief of police retaliated against a respected Sergeant for reporting sexual harassment in the department?  What plan does the Council have to investigate these claims?
c.          Sgt. McInerney’s complaint states that before he filed his lawsuit, he reported the harassment and retaliation he suffered to the Borough Administrator and Borough Attorney, and that he was thereafter further disciplined and harassed for reporting events to the Borough Administrator and Borough Attorney.  What investigation was conducted to examine that claim?
4.         Credibility Questions
The only substantive conclusions in the report seem too incredible to believe.
a.     It seems extremely unlikely that “the morale of the GRPD dramatically increased with [Chief Stahman’s] promotion to chief” in 2009.  However, more importantly, what is the opinion of the rank-and-file now, in 2015, 6 years later?
b.     Also questionable is the statement that “[Chief Stahman] and Cpt. Miller were considered a good team” (though there is no indication of whether anyone, and if so how many people, would disagree with that statement).  Given the allegations described above and others in the lawsuits, what concerns if any does Judge Carver have about whether the officers were being forthcoming in giving their glowing reviews of Chief Stahman and Cpt. Miller?  How is it possible that morale could be good given Chief Stahman’s actions against two officers and their subsequent return to the force?   
c.     At the same time, Judge Carver also states: “Unfortunately, the result the foregoing (sic) is a rift between the rank-and-file of the Department and its leadership. There seems to be a drumbeat of resentment against the Chief, Captain and Lieutenant, for what many perceive as the rush to judgment in the case of McInerney and Scott.”
        It is questionable that many simply perceived the wrongful charges against the two respected officers as a mere case of a “rush to judgment” rather than retaliation and harassment.  Regardless, Judge Carver believes that the “rift between the rank-and-file of the Department and its leadership” will subside and the department will recover from Chief Stahman’s actions.  The implication of the report is that the department would recover over a “relatively short time” with no change in leadership.
i.                    What qualifications does Judge Carver have to analyze workplace psychology and dynamics?  

ii.                  Did Judge Carver intend to communicate that the department would recover over a “relatively short time” with no change in leadership?

iii.                If so, why does Judge Carver believe it is best to wait and see, rather than make changes? 

iv.                What factors influenced this “wait and heal” recommendation?
v.                  What exactly would Judge Carver prescribe for the “healing and recovery” of the department if not a change in leadership?
vi.                Was it the Council’s intent to obtain a recommendation from Judge Carver on whether the department’s psychology can recover from what has taken place? 

vii.              Is the Council and the Mayor placing any weight on Judge Carver’s opinion about whether the department will recover without personnel changes?
d.     Judge Carver states that “most GRPD officers considered Stanislao a bad fit and a poor police officer.”  However, Judge Carver also states, “a few other members of the GRPD attempted to support and defend him, and felt he had been unfairly targeted.”  Why does Judge Carver state that the members of the GRPD “attempted to support and defend him?”  What does it mean to “attempt” to support someone in this context, or “attempt” to defend him?  Given the relatively small police department and the fact that there has been turnover since Officer Stanislao was fired, is it really fair to imply that “a few” officers supporting and defending Officer Stanislao is insignificant compared with “most” who did not, especially in light of the fact that multiple officers and management level employees who allegedly harassed Officer Stanislao for being gay are still on the force?  Isn’t it incredible that any officers at all had the bravery to support Officer Stanislao given the horrendous allegations of how Officer Stanislao was treated by the management of the department?
e.     With regard to the Rodgers report, what information does Judge Carver have that Tim Rodgers was aware of the wrongful actions being taken against Chris McInerney, Bryan Scott, and Matt Stanislao?  If Mr. Rodgers knew about these issues, how could he have concluded that the GRPD was “professional” or that it had “no major deficiencies?”  If Mr. Rodgers was unaware of these issues, then what is the relevance of his opinion?
5.         Miscellaneous issues
a.       Judge Carver states that Officer Stanislao was disciplined but demanded a hearing, and Judge Carver then imposed a higher discipline- termination.  If you demand a hearing then a harsher disciplinary measure can be imposed?  Does that satisfy Officer Stanislao’s due process rights?  It seems as if appealing from a disciplinary decision should not result in a higher discipline being imposed without notice and an opportunity to be heard on that new higher disciplinary charge.  What is the authority to issue greater discipline at the appeal stage?
b.      The Council referenced in May that there is a statute that provides the Council with authority to appoint an investigator to examine the police department culture.  What is the statute?
c.       What responsibility does the Council place with Chief Stahman for the well-publicized wrongful conduct of Eric Reamy?
As it does not appear that the culture of the GRPD has been adequately examined and/or adequately reported on, a new plan is needed.  Though the employees of the GRPD are likely frustrated with the multiple interviews they have endured, the Council may need to take steps directly to speak with officers, at least on a voluntary basis.  The Council should be open to hearing from officers about their experiences in the department, especially with respect to the issues described above.  Given the history of what has taken place in the GRPD under the leadership of Chief Stahman, and the current state of matters at the department, the Council should fire the chief of police, or ask for his resignation, and undertake a search for a new chief who can bring unity and an atmosphere of respect to the department.

Finally, the council should not to sit silently while Judge Carver addresses questions in his report.  Members of the community have entrusted the council to govern this town, to speak up and to take actions when necessary.  It does a disservice to the town to fail to be forthright and vocal about any concerns or opinions the council members and mayor may have regarding these issues.   

Becca Coll                                                       Kevin G. Davitt 

Carver Report below:

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