Lyndhurst Sergeant says Chief James O’Connor Altered Reports

Photo credit Cliffview Pilot

Photo credit Cliffview Pilot

A Lyndhurst sergeant is accusing Chief James O’Connor of altering police reports — including ordering him to quash threats by the son of a prominent family to “take a baseball bat” to his father’s head — and then retaliating against him when he refused.

“The allegations are baseless and untrue,” O’Connor said. “I look forward to our day in court.”

In a lawsuit filed in Hackensack, Sgt. John Giammetta cites a call he was dispatched to involving a resident who threatened to beat his father with a bat while the older man slept.

The son said “he was depressed and did not care about his own life” — so Giammetta says he immediately called for an ambulance to take him to Bergen Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

“Chief O’Connor arrived on the scene with his girlfriend in the [t]ownship vehicle and cancelled the ambulance,” the sergeant contends. “The Chief had a ‘connection’ to the prominent family … and did not want the threats made by the son to be included in the report.

“The police were subsequently called to the same residence on other domestic violence complaints,” he adds.

In another incident, Giammetta says, he was handling intake for Internal Affairs when he received a complaint from a North Arlington resident against O’Connor on Oct. 29, 2010.

According to the lawsuit, the woman said, in part: “I…brought a packet of paper to Chief O’Connor about towing receipts[. H]e refused to take them. As [I was] leaving[,] he told me I was drinking and advised me not to drive my car. I took it as a threat. Called someone to come pick me up because I wasn’t drinking and didn’t want anything to wrongly happen to me.”

Giammetta alleges that the highly respected 33-year department veteran instructed him to say in the report that she was drunk.

He said he told the chief that he “did not detect any smell of alcoholic beverages[,] nor did he observe and/or witness the resident to be acting under the influence of any alcoholic beverages.”

A captain then told him that the chief wanted him to write “smelled alcohol” in the report, Giammetta alleges. The sergeant’s lawyer, Robert A. Tandy, says his client refused on the grounds that “it would be inaccurate and, in his belief, a violation of the law by filing a false report.”

He says Giammetta then typed a report that alleges O’Connor “denied the resident the tow receipts and threatened the resident when she was leaving the department.”

Amending reports “is common” under O’Connor, Giammetta contends in the 11-page suit filed by Tandy, which also alleges age discrimination. In one instance, it says, O’Connor ordered a junior officer to “fix” a parking ticket by affirming that the owner produced valid paperwork when the officer never saw any.

This is the third time Giammetta has taken the chief to court. Both cases — one in Superior Court in Hackensack and the other in federal court in Newark — were dismissed.

Giammetta, 52, contends that his refusal to amend the North Arlington woman’s complaint led to a “continuous pattern” of retaliation and discrimination by O’Connor and other superiors. He says this included but wasn’t limited to:

• assigning a sergeant with less seniority as squad supervisor;

• routinely requiring Giammetta to prepare “Special Reports” on his cases;

• denying him entitled vacation time, days off and overtime hours;

• increasing supervision over him, leading to “multiple” verbal warnings and reprimands, as well as disciplinary measures and “threats of disciplinary action”;

• harassing him during annual shooting qualifications;

• “verbally assaulting” him for asking that a union representative attend a meeting between him and O’Connor;

• “repeated and continuous verbal assaults, insults, and ‘jokes’ .”

Giammetta began working for the department in March 1985. He was promoted to sergeant in September 2009.

About four months ago, he contends, O’Connor asked him, “How old are you now? When are you going to retire?”

After another sergeant put in for retirement, Giammetta alleges, O’Connor turned to him and said: “You may be gone before him. You never know.”

Giammetta is suing the borough, the department, O’Connor individually and several unnamed superiors under the state Conscientious Employee Protection Act. He seeks unspecified damages for past and future salary and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs and damages.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

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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