Controvery surrounds N.J. officer's dismissal

January 10, 2013 2:34:27 PM PST
Was it fiscal responsibility or revenge? That's the question dividing officials in a small Gloucester County township today.

The mayor of East Greenwich Township eliminated the position of a part time police officer, and that officer is linked to the mayor's own recent arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Today marked patrolman Gerald Hall's last day on the job. the part-time East Greenwich Township police officer has been laid off and some, including Police Chief Barry Jenkins, are asking if Hall's pink slip is somehow connected to the mayors pending DWI case. Police say Hall was one of the officers at the scene in July when Mayor Fred Grant was arrested for drunk driving and going 91 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone along Kings Highway

Chief Jenkins says he had no warning that Officer Hall and a police clerk would be cut: "The mayor said to me he would not, after his arrest, involve himself in anything with the police department -- budgetary or personnel issues -- until this case was resolved."

Mayor Grant says he never even saw Officer Hall at the scene the night he was arrested and there's no vendetta.

" There is no relationship between my case and somebody not being reappointed," Grant told Action News.

The mayor says department heads were notified in November they had to cut budgets 20% but that the police department has refused to cooperate: " They have repeatedly told myself and other members of the committee that we have to find the cuts, they won't work with us... I did not remove anyone. It takes three people on Township Committee; it takes a majority to vote for anything."

Officer Hall is the only part-time police officer on the 21 member force. The mayor maintains his dismissal is about budgets, not getting back.