On appeal from the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, Docket No. 2010-1034.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 10, 2011 -
Before Judges Waugh and St. John.
Appellant Walter Zapoluch appeals from an order of respondent New Jersey Civil Service Commission (Commission) upholding disciplinary action taken against him by his employer, respondent Office of the Hudson County Sheriff (Sheriff's Office). We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
In December 2008, Zapoluch had been a sheriff's officer for twenty-three years and held the rank of sergeant. At approximately 11:00 p.m. on December 14, 2008, Sheriff's Officer Terrance Murphy initiated the motor vehicle stop of a van on Route 7 in Jersey City. The operator of the van was Adeito Williams.*fn1 As Murphy stopped Williams, he called for back-up because of the dangerous location of the traffic stop. Two additional units in marked patrol cars arrived on scene, blocked traffic, and provided a safe zone for the motor vehicle stop.
Murphy subsequently telephoned the Sheriff's Communications Bureau. He asked Sheriff's Officer William Matos if he could speak to Zapoluch, who was a supervisor. Murphy informed Zapoluch that Williams was on the side of the road and refusing to leave the site of the stop. Murphy also told Zapoluch that Williams had asked to speak to a supervisor and said that he would not leave until he did.
Zapoluch asked Murphy whether he had given Williams a summons, and Murphy replied that he had issued two summonses. Zapoluch then asked Murphy how he could get to his location. Murphy gave Zapoluch directions. When Murphy again explained that Williams refused to move his vehicle until a supervisor came to the scene, Zapoluch replied: "As far as you are concerned, come on in and tell [Williams] to sit there, a supervisor is on the way."
Murphy responded that Williams was in handcuffs because he had been disorderly and screamed at Murphy. Zapoluch asked: "Did you lock him up?" Murphy responded by asking whether it was "within [his] rights to lock him up." Zapoluch replied:
No. What are you going to charge him with? Can't charge him with nothing. What are you going to charge him with, that he didn't want to move the car right away? Are you going to lock him up for that? You can't do that. You can't lock ...