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Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 31, 2015

FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, LODGE 1, JOHN WILLIAMSON, ANTHONY GALIAZZI, and CHARLES J. HOLLAND, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CAMDEN, SCOTT THOMSON, ORLANDO CUEVAS, and LIEUTENANT JOSEPH WYSOCKI, Defendants.

GREGG L. ZEFF, JENNIFER L. PRIOR ZEFF LAW FIRM, LLC, MT. LAUREL, NJ, On behalf of plaintiffs.

JOHN C. EASTLACK, JR., WESLEY L. FENZA, WEIR & PARTNERS LLP CHERRY HILL, NJ, On behalf of defendants.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1, and John Williamson, Anthony Galiazzi, and Charles J. Holland, Camden Police Officers, filed a complaint against defendants, the City of Camden, Scott Thomson, City of Camden Police Chief, Orlando Cuevas, City of Camden Police Inspector, and Joseph Wysocki, City of Camden Police Lieutenant, claiming that defendants imposed, and continue to impose, an unlawful quota policy on Camden City police officers, [1] Plaintiffs further contend that the implementation of that policy, as well as the ramifications of plaintiffs' expression of their disagreement with the policy, constitute violations of N.J.S.A. 40A:14-181.2 (Quotas for arrests or citations prohibited; use of numbers in law enforcement officer evaluations), [2] N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et seq. (Conscientious Employee Protection Act), and their First Amendment rights under the federal and New Jersey constitutions.[3] Plaintiff Holland has also asserted a claim for a violation of his rights under the federal and New Jersey Family Medical Leave Acts. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs have opposed the motion. For the reasons expressed below, defendants' motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

The policy that is the central issue in this case is the Camden City Police Department's policy regarding "directed patrols."[4] This Court recently addressed another Camden police officer's suit against the City of Camden regarding the directed patrol policy, and that officer's claims that he was retaliated against because he spoke out against the policy. See Davila v. City of Camden, ___ F.Supp. 3d ___, 2014 WL 7011159 (D.N.J. Dec. 11, 2014) (Civil Action 11-554 NLH/AMD).[5] In Davila, the Court summarized the directed patrol policy:

[D]irected patrols were a police investigative tactic which required police officers to patrol targeted crime "hot spots" in an effort to concentrate police presence in areas of the city that were known high-crime areas. The policy required officers to "engage" members of the public who were not suspected of committing any offense in an attempt to obtain information about the community and make the police presence known in the community. The policy required officers to approach citizens in the neighborhoods and attempt to obtain information about criminal activity in the neighborhood, and also obtain personal identifying information from individuals if they agreed to provide it, such as the person's name, date of birth, residence, and social security number.

Davila, 2014 WL 7011159, *1.

The Court further noted:

It appears that "directed patrols" fall into two categories. One type of police contact with an individual constitutes a constitutionally protected encounter, where an officer has reasonable suspicion to stop an individual suspected of committing a crime. In that type of encounter, an individual is not free to walk away and is required to provide identifying information. The other type of police contact with an individual - called a "mere inquiry" - does not implicate any constitutional rights, and a party is free to refuse to provide personal information and can walk away from the officer.
Id. at *1 n.2.[6]

In this case, plaintiffs claim that the directed patrol policy constituted an impermissible "quota" system, and that they were retaliated against for not fulfilling the policy and for speaking out against the policy. When the directed patrol policy was implemented, officers on supplemental patrol were required to conduct a minimum of 27 directed patrols, and officers on regular patrol were required to perform a minimum of 18 directed patrols. Two of the plaintiffs, Holland and Galiazzi, were considered "low performers" on their directed patrol requirements, and they claim that they were transferred to other positions solely because of their low directed patrol numbers, which is a violation of the New Jersey quota law.

When Holland and Galiazzi were counseled for being low performers, they both objected to the directed patrol policy, calling it an illegal quota system. Williamson, the FOP president, filed grievances on behalf of officers placed on the low performers list, he led a rally against the directed patrol policy, and he filed a state court complaint on behalf of the FOP seeking to declare the policy as invalid.[7] These plaintiffs claim that they were retaliated against by being transferred to lesser positions in the department and by being investigated by internal affairs because of the expression of their views on an illegal policy. Holland also claims that his FMLA rights were violated during this time period as well because he was cited for excessive absences despite receiving approval to take intermittent leave to care for his mother who was suffering from breast cancer.

DISCUSSION

A. Subject matter jurisdiction

Plaintiffs have brought their claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as pursuant to the New Jersey constitution and New Jersey state law. This Court has jurisdiction over plaintiffs' federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental ...


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