Englewood Cliffs Officials Accuse Police Chief of Disclosing Confidential Info

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS — Borough officials have accused Chief Michael Cioffi of disclosing confidential information about borough employees during the disclosure of evidence for a lawsuit Cioffi filed against the borough last summer.

Mayor Mario Kranjac said at a Wednesday night hearing that Cioffi and his attorney, Robert Galantucci, had released protected health information about borough employees, including a police officer. A confidential internal affairs letter from the chief was also made public, though it had nothing to do with Cioffi’s lawsuit, Kranjac said.

“This could have been avoided,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how our police department maintains its records and protects those records, but I should not know about certain health conditions of our officers, and neither should any other litigant involved.”

No disciplinary action was taken at the hearing, which was the latest in a string of quarrels involving the police department, its officers and borough officials that dates back several years. The discord has led to more than a half-dozen lawsuits, two of which were settled last month for a combined borough payout of $485,000.

Cioffi, a 41-year veteran of law enforcement, sued the borough in federal court last August, claiming a month-long suspension last spring was illegal and politically motivated.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Galantucci said the documents Kranjac referred to were relevant to his case, but he did not answer publicly when the mayor asked how. The matter, Galantucci said, would be settled in court.

Galantucci also decried the way in which the borough issued Cioffi’s Rice notice, which is an administrative declaration that alerts borough employees that their job will be discussed by the council. The mayor broke the law, Galantucci said, when he issued the notice without telling other council members.

“He did it all by himself,” Galantucci said afterward. “He’s a troublemaker.”

Kranjac said in a Thursday email that as mayor, he can issue Rice notices with the help of the borough administrator and attorney. The council members were informed, he said, as was the public.

He also said Galantucci did not have a substantive defense for disclosing the confidential information.

The mayor also used the hearing to buttress his argument that the borough needs a public safety director to oversee its emergency services, including the police department. The position would help reduce the number of lawsuits, he said, and prevent public disclosures of confidential information.

But the council rejected the ordinance, which was introduced in early July, after protests by borough police, volunteer firefighters and several residents who questioned how much authority the director would be given.

The mayor said in the email that the borough will still look to create a safety director position, again citing the throng of lawsuits.

“Our current senior leadership is clearly unable to manage the department properly,” he said.

Source: http://www.northjersey.com

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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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