WRITTEN BY MICHAEL FEELY. Wednesday, July 03, 2013.
Police Capt. Ray Cox has filed a lawsuit against the city in New Jersey Superior Court alleging that City Manager Jennifer Blumenthal removed Cox as acting chief in violation of local and state law and without due process.
Capt. Cox, a Brigantine policeman for more than 24 years, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and is asking to be restored to the position of acting chief, according to the suit filed June 28.
He is also asking that the court issue an order barring the city manager from “direct encroachment and interference” with the duties of the police chief.
At issue are the merits of Cox’s appointment of officers to fill vacant leadership positions, in direct violation of Blumenthal’s direction to wait until she returned from vacation.
Cox filled the positions, according to the lawsuit, “in order to properly staff the command personnel.” Blumenthal said those promotions were done without her approval.
According to reports, Cox was informed by Blumenthal and city attorneys on May 14 that he was removed from the acting chief’s position. Other reports from the department indicate the position was then offered to another officer who declined the post.
It has been a tumultuous year for Brigantine leadership with the retirement of Police Chief John Stone and Brigantine City Beach Patrol Chief Joe Guenther. Fire Chief Jim Holl died of a heart attack and CFO Chris Johansen resigned to take a similar position in Galloway.
City Council has three new members – replacing longtime councilmen Sam Storino, Bob Solari and Steve Bonanni.
Blumenthal has been trying to negotiate union contracts with police, the beach patrol, and now the fire department. Reports indicate that the negotiations have not gone well.
Blumenthal appointed an interim public safety director, Dan Howard, on June 17, which appears to be alienating the different departments, which have been campaigning for chiefs for each department.
There is a full page ad on Page 19 of today’s Beachcomber News from the PBA indicating the lack of confidence between the Brigantine Police Department and the city manager. Her statement at the last City Council meeting that present personnel were “not ready for management positions” has created a backlash.
Capt. Cox was on vacation at the time of this article and was unable to be reached.
Blumenthal, when contacted, said she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.