It is the policy of the Sea Girt Police Department to accept and investigate all complaints against employees and sworn personnel alleging misconduct or wrongdoing from any member of the public, department employee, or any other sources, including anonymous sources.
Complaints against Sea Girt Police Department employees will be accepted in person, by telephone, by letter or email at any time. It is preferred that the complaint is made in person, by the person directly involved in the incident so we can be sure to ascertain as much information as possible to investigate the claim, but it is not necessary. Complaints can be made anonymously or by a third party.
The 4 A’s of Internal Affairs
- ANYONE – Any individual must be permitted to file an Internal Affairs complaint. It can be a victim, a friend of the victim, a parent, a juvenile (with or without parents), an illegal alien (we are not permitted to ask about immigration status) or it can be anonymous. ANYONE means ANYONE.
- ANY WAY – An Internal Affairs complaint can be filed in ANY WAY. It could be filed by phone, by letter, written on a napkin, in person… Whatever is best for the person filing. We cannot make someone show up in person or swear the statement to initiate the complaint process.
- ANY TIME – A complaint must be taken regardless of the hour or day of the week. At no time should a complaint be told to return later, even if the IA officer is unavailable. ANY law enforcement officer or civilian employee must take a complaint.
- ANYTHING – As long as a complaint has sufficient factual information, the complaint must be investigated. It is predicated upon the victim’s view of the situation.
* * * LAW ENFORCEMENT MUST AVOID ANY LANGUAGE THAT IS DESIGNED TO DISSUADE SOMEBODY FROM FILING A COMPLAINT.
All officers and employees are empowered to take an employee complaint. Once the complaint is received, it will be forwarded to the Internal Affairs Supervisor who will assign the case to a specially trained internal affairs investigator who will conduct a thorough and objective investigation.
When a complaint alleges criminal conduct on the part of an employee, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office will be notified. A representative from that office may oversee the investigation, participate in the investigation, or conduct the investigation.
When an internal investigation is concluded, the complainant will be notified of the outcome. The possible outcome may be:
- Sustained – A preponderance of the evidence shows that an employee violated agency rules, regulations, protocols, standard operating procedures, directives, or training.
- Unfounded – A preponderance of the evidence shows that the alleged misconduct did not occur.
- Exonerated – A preponderance of the evidence shows that the alleged conduct did occur, but did not violate rules, regulations, standard operating procedures, directives, or training.
- Not Sustained – Based upon the preponderance of evidence standard, there is insufficient evidence to decide whether the alleged misconduct occurred.
- Administratively Closed – In some cases, the complaint or investigation is closed prior to reaching a disposition.
Many officers on patrol are deployed with body-worn cameras. The footage captured by these cameras will be among the first pieces of evidence reviewed by investigators. The investigation will also rely on witnesses, other officers, telephone/radio recording, physical evidence or any other information provided or discovered to reach an investigative conclusion.
In very rare cases a person deliberately makes a blatantly false complaint against an employee. In those cases, that person may be prosecuted or held civilly liable. In the state of New Jersey, under N.J.S. 2C:28-3 states, “A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he makes a written false statement which he does not believe to be true, on or pursuant to a form bearing notice, authorized by law, to the effect that false statements made therein are punishable.” Those who provide false information to this agency will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Sea Girt Police Department – Major Discipline Reporting
Pursuant to IAPP Section 9.11.2, every state, county, and local law enforcement agency in New Jersey is required to submit to the Attorney General and the County Prosecutor, and publish on the agency’s public website, a brief synopsis of all complaints where a termination, reduction in rank or grade, and/or suspension of more than five days was assessed to an agency member.
Synopsis of Disciplinary Action
- October 2020 – Officer (SLEOII) Zachary Macagnone was terminated after an investigation found a sustained finding of giving false or misleading information and giving false information under oath/swearing. The Officer was found to have provided false and/or misleading information during the employment background investigation.