South Bound Brook, NJ — In yet another of the endless illustration of the fact that police and their political cronies constitute the American equivalent of the Soviet nomenklatura, a police chief who was involved in a drunken hit-and-run collision last Spring, then lied and obstructed the investigation, will not only escape criminal charges, but will be given a severance package of $260,000 in accumulated salary and benefits — which will include a retroactive increase of his 2015 salary to nearly $150,000.
Drunk driving can be tremendously profitable — as long as the irresponsible part is protected by “qualified immunity.”
On December 1, Chief William C. King was allowed to “retire in good standing,” stipulated the official “Agreement and General Release” that was exhumed through the diligence of John Paff, Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project. Not only will there be no criminal charges against King, but any administrative charges arising from his misconduct were dropped, and he “will be indemnified from all civil actions brought against him so long as he was acting within the scope of his employment….” In other words, tax victims residing within the borough will pay legal costs in the event that King is sued by the owner of the vehicle he damaged during his drunken joyride.
King was allowed to keep his service weapon, holsters, and three ammo magazines. He also received “a retired Chief’s Badge and identification card,” and the Borough agreed to “retain any letters from the [Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office] clearing King of any administrative charges…”
This means he will not only receive stunningly lucrative retirement benefits, but retain his viability to be employed elsewhere as a “peace officer.” King waived his right to continued health insurance coverage as a condition of the settlement, which means that he has an incentive to find another paying gig in the coercive sector.
In April, the South Bound Brook PD received a report that a vehicle matching the description of one owned by Chief King had struck a parked car on South Main Street. When asked by Officer Richard Meinsen a few hours later if he had been involved in the hit-and-run, “the chief drunkenly denied any involvement,” reported NJ Advance Media.
Following up on eyewitness descriptions that matched Chief King’s pickup truck, Meinsen “found the chief’s vehicle backed into his driveway, with damage on the passenger side;” confronted with this evidence, King insisted that “the damage was already there, without elaborating as to how it got there.”
During the investigation, King’s “breath smelled of alcoholic beverages and he appeared to have been drinking,” Meinsen recorded in his official report, no doubt wondering if he was killing his career with every syllable he wrote. Eventually, King was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, and a few weeks later the charges were expanded to include failure to report an accident, careless driving, and improper turning. He wasn’t charged with obstruction, nor was he required to undergo a field sobriety test.
The prosecutor’s perverse generosity toward Chief King spared him a potential $5,000 fine and nearly half a year in jail. King also avoided a number of additional fines, fees, penalties, and potential jail time because he wasn’t compelled to undergo a sobriety test.
South Bound Brook has a history of prosecutorial leniency in dealing with police chiefs accused of corruption. King’s predecessor, Chief Kenneth Henderson, was allowed to retire with full pension and benefits — and the expected retroactive salary increase — in 2011 after the prosecutor’s office dropped charges arising from an incident in which he allegedly tipped off a local business owner about an impending raid by the Alcoholic Beverage Control department.
Although Henderson was accused of corrupt administration of his office, the allegations against him — unlike those arising from King’s drunk driving — didn’t involve injury to the person or property of anybody. Both cases, however, involve a member of the privileged brotherhood of official coercion was not only spared the expensive burden a criminal prosecution, but actually rewarded by a system that routinely ruins the lives of common citizens for much less.