A former police officer is suing the small New Jersey town that employed him, alleging that he was harassed and bullied on the job for being gay and that he and other officers were ordered to needlessly target motorists for arrest and citations in order to meet city budget quotas.
According to NJ.com, George Kosanovich is the third former police officer from Helmetta, NJ to sue the city on grounds that they were ordered to issue unnecessary citations in order to raise funds for the city budget or face the possibility of losing their jobs.
Kosanovich quit the Helmetta police force in July of 2012 after facing a months-long campaign of anti-gay harassment. Helmetta’s Mayor Nancy Martin allegedly began to ask other city and police department employees, “Is George gay?”
“There was no legitimate non-discriminatory reason Mayor Nancy Martin needed to know whether the Plaintiff was a homosexual,” said Kosanovich’s complaint against the city.
“Thereafter, (Kosanovich) was subjected to repeated acts of bullying, intimidation in the workplace, harassment, and frivolous disciplinary action which resulted in him being no longer able to tolerate his work environment,” the suit continued.
Furthermore, Kosanovich and other officers were on orders to “produce,” i.e., to issue at least three summonses per work shift in order to generate revenue. Officers were also ordered to target vehicles with out of town plates in order to keep from generating local difficulties for the mayor.
In the last two years, two other Helmetta police officers have filed suit after leaving the force, each alleging that the mayor has dedicated the police force to generating revenue more than protecting public safety.
According to NJ.com’s Lloyd Nelson, “An NJ.com analysis of police enforcement data in October 2013 found less than 1 percent of speeding tickets issued over a year and a half period were given to Helmetta residents. Indeed, Helmetta cops gave more tickets to Philadelphia residents than they gave to Helmetta residents. No major roads cut through the town.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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