Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tinton Falls Police Lieutenant's Internal Affairs record partially revealed.

John A. Scrivanic
Tinton Falls Police Chief
On November 23, 2015, I blogged about Tinton Falls Police Lieutenant Kevin Pierson settling his whistleblower lawsuit against the Borough for $527,500.  I subsequently learned of another lawsuit, filed by Tinton Falls Officer Thomas Dennehy, that shared some of the same alleged facts contained in Pierson's lawsuit.  (Dennehy's lawsuit is still active as of this writing.)

Paragraphs 90 and 91 of Dennehy's lawsuit, set forth below, allege that Tinton Falls Police Lieutenant Dean Duane, who was hired by the Department in 1989 and who made $168,719 in 2015, was involved in three incidents that resulted in Internal Affairs files being opened.

90. Defendants also promoted Dean Duane, an officer with an extensive and significant history of physical and verbal altercations implicating his fitness for duty, including the following: (a) a physical altercation at work with a co-worker in or about 2004; (b) an off-duty incident where the officer attempted to hang onto the bus when it pulled away, followed the bus, and thereafter engaged the bus driver in a verbal altercation; and (c) an on-the-job incident in or about September 2010 wherein Duane slapped Plaintiff in the face.
91. Upon information and belief, on or about January 4, 2011, Duane punched a handcuffed sixteen-year-old juvenile in the face after responding to a call. Upon information and belief, the juvenile received a black eye and a broken nose and, the juvenile's mother has initiated the process to file an Internal Affairs (IA) complaint against Duane.
On December 4, 2015, I filed an Open Public Record Act (OPRA) request for documents that would prove or disprove the existence of these Internal Affairs matters involving Lieutenant Duane. On December 22, 2015, I received a comprehensive response from the Borough.

Many of the records that were responsive to my request were denied due to various exemptions.
Those records are described in a Vaughn Index that was provided to me by the Borough.  The remaining records, as well as the Vaughn Index itself, however, demonstrate that Lieutenant Duane was involved in the following three IA matters:

IA File 2008-08 (School bus incident).

According to a police narrative report, an unnamed school bus driver reported a September 16, 2008 confrontation with Duane to police.  According to the driver's report, Duane stood "in the middle of the road" and attempted to stop the bus after the driver apparently did not pick up a child who "was laying in the driveway and wouldn't get on the bus."  The driver claimed that after he refused to let Duane on the bus and started to drive off (because the driver "didn't know what [Duane] was going to do"), Duane "jumped onto the bus and was hanging from the passenger side mirror."  The driver said that Duane met him at the school and "attempted to confront him."  There is no indication of how the IA matter was resolved.

IA File 2010-05 (Slapping Dennehy in face).

No records were provided in response to my request.  But, the second page of the Vaughn Index indicates that eight pages of "correspondence, memoranda and witness statements" regarding the incident exist but were determined to be exempt from disclosure.

IA File 2011-02 (Punching juvenile in face).

Police narrative reports filed by Duane and another officer state that on January 4, 2011 Duane, after having handcuffed a sixteen year old boy who allegedly had taken several different drugs, "punched him in the face with [his] right hand in an effort to control him."  While difficult to read, a July 18, 2011 letter from Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory J. Schweers closed the IA file at least in part because of the boy's refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

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