NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—It took authorities years to realize that dozens of files containing complaints lodged by citizens against NBPD officers had gone missing. Ultimately, Sgt. Richard Rowe, who ran the Internal Affairs division from 2003 to 2007, was blamed for the problem.
Authorities also alledge he tampered with the files and failed to fully investigate 81 of the complaints against his fellow officers, leaving them open indefinitely.
And now, Rowe, who resigned from the force last August, will face a trial after a grand jury sitting in Middlesex County indicted him last week on charges of tampering with physical evidence and obstruction of the administration of the law.
Rowe was suspended in March 2011, shortly after the investigation began. But it took the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office authorities another six months to go public with this alarming example of corruption at the highest levels of the department.
Interestingly enough, the allegations were acknowledged for the first time just over two weeks after a New Brunswick Police officer shot and killed Barry Deloatch, an unarmed man whose death sparked an anti-police brutality movement in the city.
The following day, New Brunswick’s six-term Mayor James Cahill gave a short, terse statement condemning Rowe and announcing changes to the internal affairs process. He also said anyone who wished to could file a complaint dating back to when Rowe began his tenure in Internal Affairs through a special hearing officer.
Cahill took last week’s indictment of Rowe as an opportunity to finally announce the process for filing such a complaint against an officer. He formally announced his appointment of Assistant City Attorney Charly Gayden as the “community liason,” who will meet with people to hear complaints every Thursday afternoon and make audio recordings of them at her private office at 96 Paterson Street.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.