NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—New Brunswick Police video of the November 21 traffic stop and DWI arrest of McKinley Community School Vice Principal Lester Voorhees shows that he repeatedly mentioned his position to officers who had pulled him over.
“I work at a school. I’m the Vice Principal,” Voorhees told Officers Matt Ganzer and Rodney Tillery two minutes into the stop.
“I’ll tell you one thing: I’m a Vice Principal at Mc–” Voorhees said a few seconds later.
“Your employment is of no concern right now,” Ganzer responded.
“I work at McKinley School, a Vice Principal at the High School,” Voorhees said, dropping his title for a third time.
Voorhees was clearly impaired in the video, and repeatedly used foul language during his encounter with police, but officers remained calm and respectful with Voorhees throughout the encounter.
Voorhees also told the officers that he was “trying to go home,” but he was stopped at 11:07 pm, just after pulling into a parking lot at the corner of Hamilton and High Street.
The officers told Voorhees, who was wearing a “New Brunswick Champions” football jacket, to step out of the truck.
“Sir, we need to do a couple tests with you alright? You’ve clearly been drinking a little bit of alcohol and you’re operating a motor vehicle. So we gotta make sure you’re good to go here.”
“What’s your highest level of education?” Ganzer asked.
“Master’s degree,” responded Voorhees.
“You have a master’s degree? Alright very good,” Ganzer responded, before asking Voorhees to recite “the English alphabet starting at C and finishing with the letter T”
After Voorhees failed the first two field sobriety tests, Ganzer asked him if he takes any prescription medications, and Voorhees explained that he is prescribed Percocet for back pain and takes one pill every day.
Voorhees subsequently failed three more field sobriety tests before being placed in handcuffs.
At this point, Voorhees asks a question that is hard to hear, but ends with “Officer Trigg,” a reference to NBPD Sgt. Raymond Trigg.
“If you want him to sign you in at headquarters, that’s fine,” responds Ganzer.
Before Voorhees is placed in the back of the squad car, Tillery discovers a plastic bag that appeared to contain narcotics.
The video shows that Ganzer and Tillery also found at least one open bottle of alcohol in Voorhees’ truck.
The truck, which officers said was nearly a year overdue for registration and inspection, was later taken away by a tow truck and placed under a 12-hour hold.
After the arrest, Ganzer remarked that Voorhees had been driving on the wrong side of Division Street prior to pulling him over.
According to New Brunswick Police Captain JT Miller, Voorhees was charged with thirteen different offenses, including:
- driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- DWI in a school zone
- obstruction of traffic
- failure to keep right
- reckless driving
- open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle
- possession of controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle
- failure to inspect
- failure to exhibit license
- unregistered vehicle
- possession of marijuana
- possession of cocaine
- possession of paraphernalia
Superintendent Richard Kaplan confirmed that the New Brunswick School District suspended Voorhees from his job with pay.
“We don’t comment on personnel issues. We cannot,” said Board of Ed Chairwoman Patricia Sadowski. “And it’s a legal issue. It’s not in our hands, it’s out of our hands.”
But that did not stop one board member from attacking this newspaper for breaking the story of Voorhees’ arrest in the first place, claiming that our November 24 article was “inappropriate,” and going so far as to call it “the equivalent to the Ferguson/St. Louis and Staten Island issues.”
“I’m calling [NBToday Editor Charlie] Kratovil out,” said Board of Education member Ed Spencer. “You basically shot and choked Mr. Voorhees in your paper.”
“What’s reported about Mr. Voorhees in your paper was inappropriate. You have no idea nor did you thoroughly research your information about Mr. Voorhees before you reported his issue.”
Voorhees has worked for the district since 1997 and earned a $126,234 salary as of 2012.