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Quaglietta v. Borough of Haledon

Decided: November 16, 1981.

VINCENT QUAGLIETTA, POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 114, HAROLD ENGOLD, JR., JOHN GAMBLE, DAVID SUTTON, AND NEW JERSEY STATE ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOROUGH OF HALEDON, DEFENDANT



Romei, J.J.D.R.C. (temporarily assigned).

Romei

[182 NJSuper Page 138] On March 30, 1981 the governing body of the Borough of Haledon adopted Ordinance 3-11-81 which established the office of "Director of Police." Chief Vincent Quaglietta, the local Police Benevolent Association, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and three police officers reacted by the

institution of this prerogative writ action wherein they attacked the validity of the ordinance. Their application for ad interim injunctive relief to enjoin the appointment of a police director was granted pursuant to R. 4:69-3.

Ordinance 3-11-81 was subsequently repealed and replaced by Ordinance 6-10-81 during the pendency of these proceedings. This ordinance was adopted on June 25, 1981. The stated purpose for the enactment of the revised ordinance, which again established the office of "Director of Police," was to grant to the director "only those powers which derive in the powers given to the governing body." Defendant then moved for summary judgment and for the vacation of the preliminary restraint. The motions were denied on July 15, 1981. Ordinance 6-10-81 and, specifically, those provisions thereof which relate to the office of the Director of Police, is now the subject matter of this litigation.

The court makes the following findings of fact -- all by a preponderance of the credible evidence adduced at the trial:

(1) The Haledon police chief does not occupy a statutory office.

(2) Chief Quaglietta was duly appointed police chief on March 12, 1980.

(3) Chief Quaglietta acquired tenure of office during good behavior immediately upon his appointment, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-128.

(4) At the time of his appointment the police chief derived his powers and duties from Ordinance 11-16B-64, adopted on December 7, 1964. Under the terms of this ordinance and, specifically, in § III thereof, he alone was in "sole and complete control over the Department, its members and property, subject only to the governing body of the municipality and the Police Committee." Further powers and duties which devolved upon the office of police chief are more particularly set forth in §§ IV and V of the ordinance. They included preservation of the "public peace," the enforcement of "all the laws and ordinances,"

the obligation to insure that the "police officers under him" obey "the Police rules prescribed by the Police Committee" and that "they perform their duties promptly, efficiently and faithfully," determination of "the beats, tours and nature of duty of the patrolmen" and the monthly submission of "a comprehensive report of the operation of the Police Department and recommendations for improvements" to the mayor and council.

(5) Ordinance 6-10-81 now provides in § I that the police department shall consist of a "Director of Police, a Chief of Police. . ." and other specified superior officers and patrolmen. And, in § IV thereof, now, "The Chief of Police shall exercise sole and complete control over the Department, its members and property, subject only to the governing body of the municipality and the Police Committee and the Director of Police." Further, in § III thereof, it is the Director of Police who now shall " hold and exercise all of the authority and functions of a Department Head." Also, in § III, it is the Director who is constituted " the final authority in all matters of policy, operations and discipline." It is the Director who now " shall supervise and train all personnel," and it is he who now shall "Cooperate with county, state and federal law enforcement authorities in the enforcement of laws and furtherance of public safety" within the borough. And, in § VI, the Director is required to submit monthly "a comprehensive report of the operation of the Police Department and recommendations for improvements in its operation" to the mayor and council.

(6) Dissatisfaction with Chief Quaglietta's performance developed within months of his appointment. At the trial Mayor Sibilio testified that the chief was not "handling the police department in the proper way," "leadership was lacking" and he wasn't getting the cooperation from him that he had expected." Further, the mayor related various problems in the police department, including alleged factionalism, alleged political involvement, ...


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