TRENTON, NJ Cops in the Jersey Shore town of Bradley Beach want to prevent their bosses from having access to their cellphone bills to see if they’ve been chit-chatting at work.
In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the union representing Bradley Beach police officers asked a judge to put an end to a policy that allows the department’s police chief to ask for an officer’s monthly personal cell phone bill.
The Bradley Beach Policemen’s Benevolent Association says the policy, enacted in January 2014, violates their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The lawsuit names as defendants Bradley Beach and its police chief, Leonard Guida.
Guida declined to comment on the allegations other than to confirm that a cell phone policy went into effect last year.
“It’s not a prohibition against cell phones,” Guida said.
The lawsuit claims the policy “discourages” the use of personally-owned cellphones while officers are on duty unless they have the permission of the chief.
Officers are allowed to use their phones for short personal calls limited to family emergencies such as child care issues and illness, the lawsuit says.
In addition to giving Guida the right to check monthly personal cellphone records, the policy allows him to review all calls, text messages and internet access made on personal devices while officers are on duty, the lawsuit says.
Defendant Borough of Bradley Beach has failed to exercise reasonable care in ensuring that policies developed and maintained by the Police Department do not breach the constitutional rights of its employees,” the lawsuit claims.
It claims the PBA was rebuffed when it tried to discuss its concerns with Guida.
“The PBA had to take these steps in order to protect their members rights,” said Marcia Tapia-Mitolo, the attorney representing the PBA.
She declined to comment further.
“After raising several issues that the PBA had with this policy, it was understood that Chief Guida would consider the PBA’s objections and provide a response accordingly,” the lawsuit says. “The Defendants have failed to respond to the PBA’s request to discuss the effectuation of this policy…”
The lawsuit is seeking a court order declaring the policy unconstitutional.