Neptune Settles Lawsuit with Female Police Officer

By DON STINE

Neptune has reached an out-of-court settlement with a female police officer who filed a lawsuit charging the police department had a culture of sexism and racism.  Also, it is expected that Police Chief James M. Hunt Jr. will file a tort lawsuit against the township in the near future.

Cristine Savage, a 20-year police veteran, filed the lawsuit charging a culture of sexism in the police department and sexual discrimination and harassment.

“We have moved to approve the settlement against the lawsuit,” Mayor Robert Lane Jr. said.

He said the settlement was approved at a recent Township Committee meeting. Township officials said they cannot release the details of the settlement at this time.

The lawsuit claimed that Savage had repeatedly been passed over for promotions that were given to less-qualified men, denied special training and assignments, and worked in a hostile environment, including sexually crude comments and actions. Savage is the only female supervisor in the Neptune police department.

In another matter, it is expected that a tort lawsuit will be filed against the township by Police Chief James M. Hunt Jr. Township officials were recently advised in a letter from Hunt’s attorneys that documents and other materials related to the lawsuit be protected and that officials will receive the lawsuit once it has been filed.

“They have provided us the notice but not the details,” Neptune Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta said.

A tort claim can waive governmental immunity and allows lawsuits by people who claim they have been harmed by torts (wrongful acts), including negligence by government agencies or their employees.

An inquiry into charges by Hunt that he is being harassed by the recently-formed Police Oversight Committee in order to put an African American chief in his position had been supported in an independent summary of findings.

On July, 2017, a three-member Police Oversight Committee was created to oversee the police department, which has faced a number of lawsuits and complaints in the last few years.

Hunt contents that the Police Oversight Committee (POC) has shown “offensive and hostile” behavior. He said the POC is interfering with his ability to run the police department and is attempting to remove him from his job.

The inquiry results are now under review by the governing body.

Committeemen Nick Williams and William Brantley are currently on the POC, along with Adrienne Sanders, who is president of the Asbury Park-Neptune NAACP Chapter. Retired Newark police Captain Barry Colicelli was also an original member but later stepped down to become a POC paid consultant. The governing body recently voted to remove him from that position.

Creating the POC eliminated the Police Director position, held by CFO Michael J. Bascom for four years.

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