Little Egg Harbor Township Police Lt. Don Johnson has been on administrative leave - and receiving his six-figure salary and annual raises - since 2010?

In a financially pressed town where the Police Department is still down four officers after 11 were laid off in 2010? (Seven were ultimately rehired.)

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And nobody can talk about it because it's a personnel issue?

How outrageous.

And frustrating too - because the public has no way of knowing whether Johnson, a 24-year veteran, is the victim here (albeit a well-paid victim) or is guilty of some transgression.

Administrative leave is used to relieve a public employee of his or her duties during an internal investigation. Indeed, Police Chief Richard Buzby has declined to comment on Johnson's situation because there is an ongoing investigation.

But what kind of investigation could possibly take almost three years? The Warren Commission investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy and issued its 889-page final report in less than a year.

At the very least, you would think the salary of someone on administrative leave would be frozen. But Johnson, who was earning $128,877 when he went out on leave in 2010, is now earning $137,453. If he is still on leave in 2013, his salary will rise to $140,202.

Again, we don't know if Johnson is at fault here or the victim here. But this is the kind of thing that makes taxpayers drop their jaws. This would never happen in the private sector. Municipalities negotiate their own rules on administrative leave. Why - how - does a town allow a situation such as this to occur?

Will Johnson stay on leave and continue to collect his salary and annual raises until he is ready to retire - with a pension based on a final salary that increased annually as he sat home?

Why are Little Egg Harbor Township's elected officials quietly accepting this bizarre arrangement?

Goodness - if it were a teacher out on administrative leave at full salary for almost three years, everyone from Gov. Chris Christie on down would be screaming about it and calling for reform of the rules.

Our suggestion would be for Police Chief Buzby to wrap up this investigation - pronto.

And state lawmakers need to take a look at preventing such situations from occurring.

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