While Margate’s police union officially notified the city in June that it has passed a motion of no confidence against Police Chief David Wolfson, the city on Tuesday denied a Press records request for the PBA letter.
Wolfson and Mayor Mike Becker, the public safety commissioner, said they were notified about the vote, which took place at the May 18 PBA meeting, via a letter from Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Local 65 President Shane Conesky.
Conesky could not be reached to comment. Margate’s contract with the PBA expires at the end of the year.
The reason given by the city for the denial of the Press request was that “information generated by or on behalf of public employers or public employees in connection with the following: Any grievance filed by or against an individual’ is specifically exempt from disclosure under (state law).”
Wolfson said the issues cited as the cause of the vote — the management of reduced manpower, such as pulling several older officers off patrols, as well as canceled vacation days — have been and are being addressed.
He added that “several members of the union have filed a grievance, for lack of a better word, with the state PBA about what was done (with the vote) and how it was done. They objected to the vote. ... Several senior officers have signed a letter asking for an investigation into this matter.”
Wolfson added that he could not discuss another issue — the suspension without pay of Officer Chris Taroncher, who arrested Philadelphia lawyer and Margate resident Jimmy Binns on criminal-mischief charges stemming from a neighborhood dispute in December — because of an ongoing internal affairs investigation.
The charges against Binns, the self-described “honorary police chief” of Margate, were later dismissed. But Taroncher’s attorney, Erica Appenzeller, said Taroncher was suspended without pay for alleged violations of Margate Police Department policies and faces termination.
Because of civil-service laws, Taroncher now faces both a municipal hearing and a review from the state Department of Personnel, Appenzeller said.
“I think the charges are ridiculous and unwarranted,” Appenzeller said. “Police officers are under enough scrutiny as is. It’s disappointing when an officer is actually doing his job and has probable cause and can be removed from his job for what he was trained to do.”
A recently published report in the Philadelphia Daily News claimed that Binns was receiving other preferential treatment from Wolfson, including not arresting him for carrying an unregistered .40-caliber Glock handgun while wearing a Philadelphia police uniform during a “Hero Thrill Show” in Margate.
Wolfson told the Daily News that Binns never carried a handgun while dressed in a Margate uniform.
Binns, reached by The Press in June by phone, disputed the Daily News story, but would not comment.
Binns’ attorney, Stephen Hankin, who previously denied the allegations in the Daily News story, said of the Margate police situation that Binns “feels his civil rights had been taken away by those officers.”
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