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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Did Northfield PD give break to a fellow officer who was driving drunk?

Issue Detail:

August 15, 2011 New Jersey Attorney General\'s Office Office of Citizens\' Services P.O. Box 080 Trenton, NJ 08625-0080 RE: Northfield Police Department (Atlantic County) Dear Sir or Madam: We believe that during the early morning hours of February 17, 2011, the Northfield Police Department may have encountered an off-duty police officer from Egg Harbor Township who was intoxicated and passed out behind the wheel of his private vehicle while stopped at a traffic light. We further believe that the Northfield Police did not administer a field sobriety test or otherwise investigate to determine whether the off-duty officer was driving while under the influence. Rather, Northfield Police apparently gave their fellow officer preferential treatment by having him driven home by an Egg Harbor Township police sergeant. In order to understand the matter better, please download the following records: August 15, 2011 Letter from Egg Harbor Police Chief in response to my August 8, 2011 letter. Northfield Police Department\'s \"Detail Call for Service Report\" from February 17, 2011. Audio of radio transmissions and telephone call related to the February 17, 2011 incident. The audio recording and Service Report suggest that Northfield Police observed Egg Harbor Township Officer Jeffrey Lancaster asleep behind his wheel while his vehicle was stopped at an intersection and remained there while the traffic light went through several sequences. They also suggest that Lancaster was \"AOB\" (i.e. had alcohol on his breath) and may have been \"four-fifty\" (in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, New Jersey\'s drunk driving statute). Yet, instead of investigating this incident as a drunk driving violation, Northfield Police called Egg Harbor Township Police and Sergeant Michael T. Hughes went to the scene to drive Lancaster home. Egg Harbor Township Police Chief Michael J. Morris\' letter confirms, however, that an internal affairs investigation of the incident resulted in Lancaster pleading guilty to several infractions of departmental rules and regulations. While we have been denied access to many of the records related to this matter, it appears to us that Lancaster, who was off-duty and driving his own vehicle at the time of his encounter with Northfield Police, was disciplined as a result of that encounter--probably for driving while intoxicated. Also, had Lancaster been sleeping but not intoxicated, he could have driven himself home. If our suspicions are correct, then it appears that the Northfield Police Department acted inappropriately by not investigating their encounter with Lancaster as a drunk driving matter and treating him as they undoubted would have had treated an ordinary citizen. We find such preferential treatment repugnant and hope that your office feels the same way. We ask that you please investigate this matter and advise us of the results of your investigation. Very truly yours, John Paff, Chairman New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Police Accountability Project




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Did Northfield PD give break to a fellow officer who was driving drunk?. August 15, 2011.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2011226p9/
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