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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sgt. On Leave After Voiding Tickets

Ramapo sgt. on leave after voiding tickets
The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - March 16, 2012

RAMAPO, NY — A Ramapo police sergeant has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation into accusations he voided two traffic summonses without justification and possibly as a courtesy for an officer from another department, officials said Friday. Sgt. Christopher Franklin, a 13-year officer and former K-9 officer, has not been hit with any disciplinary charges as the department brass investigates the circumstances surrounding the voiding of two moving violations from the department’s computer system, Ramapo Police Capt. Brad Weidel said. Police Chief Peter Brower has notified the Rockland District Attorney’s Office of the internal investigation as a matter of departmental policy. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he would await the results of the police review before making a decision on if any criminal charges were necessary. The department became aware of the accustions involving Franklin on Monday when police officer Ernst Tenemille sent out a departmental email, Weidel said. “The contents of this email allege that a member of our department voided two summonses he (Tenemille) had previously issued on March 8,” Weidel said. “Officer Tenemille was upset with what occurred. Once we the administration became aware, we immediately began an internal investigation.” Ramapo PBA President Dennis Procter said Franklin got caught up in procedural problems and trying to help Tenemille. Procter said he hasn’t spoken to Tenemille but the department is still trying to decipher Tenemille‘s email, saying Franklin wasn’t mentioned by name. Procter said there will be policy changes concerning procedures and the computer system as a result of the investigation. “Chris didn’t do anything illegal,” Procter said. “He didn’t do anything that could be considered unethical. I am confident that at the end of the day he will be cleared of any accusations.” Weidel said the internal investigation also will look into whether a Clarkstown police officer asked Franklin to void the tickets on behalf of a friend. “I’ve heard that,” Weidel said. “Any information we get no matter how trivial we are trying to track down and verify. It would be speculation, otherwise.” Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan could not be reached for comment on Friday. Ticket fixing has been in the public eye following the scandal involving the New York Police Department, leading to indictments on criminal charges and ruined law-enforcement careers. More than a dozen police officers in the Bronx were charged in what authorities described as a highly organized practice. “What happened in New York City does not happen here and we don’t want any type of comparison with how we do business,” Procter said. “The department is taking steps to reassure the public.” Weidel said Ramapo police supervisors can void summonses for certain reasons, such as mistakes, but must provide a written justification for doing so. “We don’t allow officers to void tickets and they must go through a supervisor, who can make the decision but must say why,” Weidel said. “Voiding a ticket is not necessarily nefarious.” Tenemille was not told the summonses he issued had been voided. “We believe the supervisor in this case voided two tickets but it was not done with the proper procedure and was not justified,” Weidel said. “The chief and our department take any allegations of misconduct seriously. We will thoroughly investigate this incident.” Weidel said the department has not yet reached the point of reviewing all voided summonses, saying that could happen after the investigation is finished. Like other departments, Ramapo officers also are allowed to negotiate a disposition of a ticket with the driver before appearing before a judge in traffic court. The negotiations can lead to a moving violation becoming less severe. The judge eventually has to approve the plea agreement. Tenemille and Franklin could not be reached for comment. Tenemille, an officer for more than decade like Franklin, once fought the department in 2009 and demanded the Christian Sabbath on Sunday and holidays off after a newly hired Jewish officer got Friday nights and Saturdays off for her religious beliefs. Brower and Capt. Thomas Cokeley on Thursday afternoon briefed the three-member Ramapo Police Commission about Franklin being placed on administrative leave. Cokeley is heading the internal review. Members of the commission are Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, Councilman Patrick Withers, a retired police officer, and civilian member Frances Hunter, a former councilwoman. St. Lawrence declined comment before the Police Commission meeting. Withers said Friday that he viewed the situation as a personnel matter and referred all questions to the police chief.


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Anonymous said...

Doewa anyone know the outcome of the charges against PO Franklin?