Port Authority Fires 9 Rookie Officers After Raucous Graduation Party At Bar

Nine freshly-minted Port Authority Police officers are being fired and three supervisors disciplined following a rowdy celebration at a Hoboken bar after graduation from the police academy, the agency announced today.

The Aug. 22 incident has also prompted the Port Authority to re-evaluate candidate screening and other practices at the Port Authority Police Academy, the agency said.

The incident involved members of the academy’s 113th graduating class who gathered at Texas Arizona, a well-known night spot at corner of River Street and Hudson Place, a block from the NJ Transit Hoboken Terminal.

A source familiar with what happened said at the time that the officers were drunk and out of control, and identified themselves as police officers when resisting bar bouncers who tried to quiet them. The source said someone at the bar called the Hoboken Police Police Department, which contacted the PAPD.

Following an investigation by the Port Authority Inspector General’s Office, the agency announced today that it was terminating nine of the new officers, who were on probationary status and do not enjoy the same administrative or union protections as more senior officers. The agency also said three other probationary police were being suspended for 30 days without pay, and will have their probationary status extended by a year.

The Port Authority said three members of the police academy staff and two other veteran officers who were present at the time, are facing unspecified disciplinary actions, though those officers are entitled to hearings. Three of the five officers are supervisors, the Port Authority said.

None of the officers was identified, and the ranks of the supervisors were not given.

A spokesman for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the agency never explained why the officers were being fired.

“The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association (PAPBA) was made aware at 5:45 AM today of the Port Authority’s decision to terminate the employment of nine probationary police officers,” read a statement by the spokesman, Robert Egbert. “Though this decision is the result of an internal investigation, the PAPBA was not made aware of any specific charges leading to the terminations. The PAPBA is currently reviewing the Port Authority’s actions.”

Sgt. Steve Prospero, the president of the Port Authority Police Sergeants Benevolent Association, and Lt. Jeff Baumbach, who heads the lieutenants’ union, said they had not been notified of action against any of their members.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye issued a statement.

“This is a sad day for the Port Authority Police Department,” Foye stated. “We are extremely disappointed by the conduct of the probationary officers involved and appalled by the poor judgment of the Academy staff members in attendance.”

From NJ.com

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