Vernon Ogrodnek

An off-duty Egg Harbor Township police officer who commandeered a vehicle and chased a burglary suspect into Linwood last month is now the subject of an internal affairs investigation, officials say.

The vehicle he pursued turned out to be the wrong car.

Officer Kenneth Winkel commandeered a vehicle in Egg Harbor Township at about 11:40 p.m. Feb. 25 to pursue a man he suspected of attempted burglary, according to audio recordings and police reports obtained through the Open Public Records Act. No one would officially say where the vehicle was commandeered.

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One of the men was dressed in only his underwear, but it’s unclear from the recordings whether the partially clothed man was the police officer or the suspect.

Winkel — an Egg Harbor Township resident — followed the perceived suspect, who was driving a Hyundai, across Poplar Avenue into Linwood before it stopped at the intersection of Van Sant and Wabash avenues. Linwood police determined the Hyundai was unrelated to the alleged crime and the driver was released.

In audio recordings obtained from Linwood Police, Egg Harbor Township dispatcher Bryan Gaviria informed an unidentified dispatcher from Somers Point, which handles calls for Linwood, of the chase.

Later in the conversation, Gaviria asked Somers Point to dispatch a K-9 unit to the scene, “because apparently he ran a quarter-mile in his underwear.” He added that Winkel was “not communicating very well.” Again, it was unclear which man was in his underwear.

“Believe they may have the wrong vehicle now,” Gaviria said. “He lost it.”

Lt. Robert Gray, of the EHT police, said the department is investigating an incident that “happened at an off-duty police officer’s house” on Feb. 25, although he declined to identify the officer involved or comment on the status of the investigation.

That information, he said, is part of an internal affairs investigation.

Winkel, a former Linwood police officer who was laid off last year, was hired by Egg Harbor Township in January. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Anthony Razzi, the EHT resident whose car was commandeered, declined to comment.

Linwood police Chief Robert James confirmed that one of the department’s officers stopped a car being pursued by an off-duty Egg Harbor Township police officer.

“We don’t believe the car we stopped had any involvement in” the alleged burglary, he said.

Near the end of the conversation between the two dispatchers, Gaviria said police did not know where the suspect vehicle went.

“Believe they may still be in our town,” he said.

Contact Wallace McKelvey:



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