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Op-Ed: Indemnification Doesn't Solve the Real Problem

David Boone, Fair Lawn Policemen's Benevolent Association Local 67 President, discusses his thoughts on the indemnification of Police Chief Erik Rose and Captain Joseph Cook

At , Fair Lawn's council voted 4-1 (Deputy Mayor Joe Tedeschi was the lone "No" vote) to .

David Boone, Fair Lawn's PBA president, offers his thoughts on the indemnification:

I was told a while ago by a council member that they felt that they have to indemnify the chief or else "no one would ever take the job."  While I completely understand the logic behind this, I also understand that this could create an endless cycle of lawsuits.  Bad management does not get better by covering its mistakes.  The problem now is clearly that we have entered this vicious cycle of paying for the mismanagement, but never addressing the problems.

The atmosphere in the police department is the total mistrust of the two senior leaders of the department.  This has been developed and cultivated by their leadership or lack thereof.  I had the privilege of serving for three years in the United States Army Special Operations Command.  While there I served under some of the finest leaders this country had to offer.  I am not just talking about Generals or Colonels, but about officers and enlisted men.  It was a great atmosphere to serve my country in.  It was one in which I knew that my leaders would not ask me to go where they were not willing to go.  At one point during the Gulf War, my commander, Lt. Col. Dell Dailey, led a dangerous mission which Army leaders later said was unheard of because of the danger involved.  But this man was the kind of leader you could follow to the very gates of hell.  He later became a Lt. General and Ambassador in charge of counter terrorism for the USA.  This is where I learned about leadership and how effective it could be in leading an military or para-military organization.

The officers of the department now feel that their every move is questioned and that their leadership will not back them.  This is a dangerous position to put everyone in.  For example, officers are injured in the line of duty and now they are treated as if they are the enemy or the suspect who caused the injury.  You need only read the statements posted on the disability insurers website to see that they are not in business to help the injured, but to save money even at the expense of the injured person's health.

It is easy to stand on the sidelines and point your finger and say, "it's just a few disgruntled officers," but it takes real leadership to say, "what can we do to find out what the real problems are, fix them, and improve everything we do." If the council is going to continue to indemnify bad management of the police department, maybe it is time to bring in a professional to straighten things out.

This whole issue of indemnification should have been deferred to the new council in January, but politics is what got us to where we are and I guess it will continue to drive this ship to the bottom of the sea.

David Boone

Deleted because of harassment December 09, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Chris: You don't know what you are talking about. And you need to do your own research on how Fair Lawn's form of government works, because your comments about "many towns" show you don't understand it. Policies, under civil service law, that are unwritten are also unenforceable in the legal system. The Manager does just what the name implies - manages the town, including all employees. The Council handles the legal end and adminsters all laws and budgets, including the statuatory requirements for all civil service positions. There is a certain amount of give-and-take of opinion, but the final say on employees in the operation of the town is the Manager. Go and look it up yourself.
Chris Antonelli December 09, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Council does laws and policy. Manager does budget and employees. Show me where it is written that the Council cannot move to fire a PO? Anyway, all that would be needed would be a move to a police director. The Council can easily get that done if they wanted to.
Deleted because of harassment December 09, 2011 at 09:25 PM
I can't figure out if you are as disengenous as you sound or just confused. The Faulkner Act is where "it is written". That's where the powers and authorities of the various members of Fair Lawn's form of government are described in detail. Also the Civil Service Act dictates what can and can not be done to an employee who fit the title of the act. The Council can unfund a position title, but not fire anyone in particular - they can file a complaint that the employee committed a violation under the Civil Service Act and send charges against the employee to the Manager, or formally file under the procedures of that act. But the firing is done by the Manager, in their name or under the Manger's own authority. That's why the move to a police director the last time someone wanted to change Chiefs. However, it needs a majority approval of the council, and requires notice of the change to the Chief, who can then file charges to resist - and costing Fair Lawn even more lawyer's fees. My bet would be a subtle suggestion to retire - Erik was in my sixth grade class when I moved to FL in 1966 and in school with me all through high schooll graduation - backed up by a threat of sanctions via the Manager under the Civil Service Act if he doesn't. Ironically, he's only two years younger than Kneer, the man accusing him of trying to force him to retire.
Chris Antonelli December 09, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Right. Yours would be the long version. Anyway, I'd like to see everyone work out the issues. When morale in your workplace is down, it makes your job that much harder. Police have enough garbage to deal with. They don't need any from their peers.
Nonsense September 18, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Well David, almost a full year with the new crew and nothing has been done, seems like you were right!

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