ABSECON — A police officer has sued the city, saying it did not follow either the state’s or its own rules when it sought to discipline her.
April M. Kolakowski, 37, of the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, has been an officer since August 2008, following almost five years as a dispatcher, and was paid $78,408 in 2011.
Her attorney, John Eastlack, said the incident at issue arose following a medical call to a city motel used by long-term tenants in 2009. There, he said, she believed the person received inadequate medical care. She and her partner left, only to be called back because of a supposed emergency. When the officers found there was no emergency, Eastlack said she had an “encounter” with Rich Hudson, chief of Absecon Emergency Services.
Shortly afterward, the suit said, she was told in September 2009 that police were disciplining her for violating regulations regarding professional conduct with the public.
After asking police Chief Joseph J. Cowan for time to prepare, Cowan said in October 2009 that a hearing date would soon be set, the suit said.
Nothing happened for almost two years, so Kolakowski’s attorney asked in June 2011 for formal notice that the charges were dropped. Instead, according to the suit, two months later Kolakowski was told there would be a hearing.
In June 2012, hearing officer Robert Verry, a former police chief and president of the New Jersey Internal Affairs Association, partially dismissed the charges and imposed a nine-day suspension. The suspension was challenged, and has not been imposed.
The suit said the decision was inconsistent with city regulations and state discipline standards because of the lengthy process and the apparent lack of investigation and report.
The suit seeks for the charges and penalties to be dropped, as well as the awarding of legal fees and any award the court decides is appropriate.
James P. Grimley, the city’s solicitor, declined comment.
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