LOWER TOWNSHIP — A township police lieutenant, who has not returned to work since being charged with driving with a blood alcohol content 4½ times the legal limit in 2018, has retired and his arrest is the subject of an ongoing administrative investigation.
In a video released Monday, police Lt. John Chew, 48, can be seen struggling to complete field sobriety tests administered by subordinate officers during a traffic stop conducted less than a mile from his home on April 27, 2018. After failing several road-side tests, Chew was placed under arrest. According to the police report, Chew’s BAC was .36%. The legal limit in New Jersey is .08%.
Chew, contacted Monday, said that he retired April 1, 2019, but declined to comment on the incident, in which he was charged with driving while intoxicated and failure to maintain lane.
Township police Capt. Martin Biersbach said Monday that Chew was not technically suspended. He was not permitted to return to work and had to use his available time.
An Internal Affairs investigation began immediately and has not been completed pending Chew’s retirement filings, Biersbach said.
The video and police record were first posted online Saturday by YouTube channel operator Real World Police.
The Press obtained the police report and was provided with a video of the car stop by township officials Monday.
Chew was placed on administrative leave following his arrest, according to the police report.
Detective Sgt. Aaron Sykes of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office said the county’s top law enforcement agency was notified of the arrest, but that any administrative investigations in this instance would be handled by Lower Township police.
Lower Township Manager James Ridgway said the township cannot comment on the incident because it is considered a personnel issue.
“As per legal instruction, we’re not allowed to discuss personnel issues publicly,” he said.
Ridgway confirmed Chew no longer works for the township.
Chew, who started his career with the department in 1995, had been promoted to lieutenant three months before his arrest. According to state pension data, where he is still listed as active, Chew earned an annual salary of $127,242.
According to the police report, a citizen contacted police shortly before 6:30 p.m. about a vehicle driving erratically and at a high rate of speed. The description of the vehicle matched Chew’s 2002 black Chevrolet pickup truck.
Chew was pulled over by Patrolman Michael Nuscis and then-Cpl. John Armbruster near Honeysuckle Lane and Idell Street after passing by the police station on Breakwater Road.
When Nuscis approached the vehicle, he detected the smell of alcohol and “noticed (Chew’s) eyes were watery and droopy,” the police report stated.
Armbruster told Chew that the officers’ body cams were recording and that he and Nuscis “have to handle this like anything else,” before asking his superior to exit the vehicle.
“I get it,” Chew said in the video.
Chew failed two field sobriety tests and declined to continue during a third while struggling to maintain his balance without swaying or holding on to the back of his truck for balance.
He was taken to the police station, observed for 20 minutes then provided samples for a breath test, both of with resulted in a .36 percent reading.
He was then transported to Cape Regional Medical Center and issued a motor vehicle summons.