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Vineland Police Under Scrutiny

The New Jersey Public Defender's Office believes that a pattern of misconduct exists in Vineland's Street Crimes Unit.  They are seeking confidential documents from an ongoing police corruption lawsuit to make their case.

The Vineland Police Department is under scrutiny because of a complaint raised by a police officer who claimed that he experienced retaliation after reporting misconduct by fellow officers, including possible drug crimes.

At a hearing before Judge Darrell M. Fineman in Cumberland County Superior Court, it was revealed that the county prosecutors office dismissed 39 criminal cases that were investigated by Detective Gamaliel "Gami" Cruz. The county has suspended its investigator and has begun the process of firing him.

The criminal case that may turn on the documents in the police corruption case involves Detective Cruz and has not been dismissed as have some other cases in which Cruz was involved. The criminal complaint charges that a Vineland resident had a pistol in his car.The police stop was based on a tip from a confidential informant phoned in to Cruz that the defendant would be delivering drugs.  The tip turned out to be wrong, but the defendant was arrested and charged on the weapons violation.

Issues like these are not limited to Vineland and Cumberland County. The Camden County Prosecutor's Office has dismissed nearly 200 cases since 2009 because of illegalities -- proven and suspected -- within a special Camden police unit. Three members of the five-officer unit pleaded guilty, one was convicted and the fifth was found not guilty.

Source: The Daily Journal, "Hearing focuses on officers' integrity", by Joseph P. Smith, Jan. 16, 2912.

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