North Brunswick officials: NBC report does not tell accurate story of police department

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Municipal officials have fired back at a Feb. 13 NBC-TV report, which alleged improprieties in the North Brunswick Police Department by stating that the report on the New York television station missed the mark by not depicting a well-rounded department.

The TV station’s report contained accusations of alleged racial profiling and targeting, and ticket quotas in the police department.

On Feb. 14, North Brunswick’s mayor and police department administrators said they were setting the record straight, according to a statement prepared by Burton Trent Public Affairs.

“To say that racial profiling, unethical targeting – the practice of moving patrols to communities for purposes of intimidation – and ticket quotas – ‘write tickets or else’ – doesn’t exist would be disingenuous,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said in response to an interview that reporter Sarah Wallace conducted with North Brunswick Patrolman Michael Campbell in a News 4 I-Team Exclusive that aired on Feb. 13.

“When you say it about North Brunswick, we are adamant that those reprehensible activities have never been a policy or acceptable practice of this administration or under the leadership of Public Safety Director Kenneth McCormick or Deputy Chief Joseph Battaglia,” Womack said.

When allegations of profiling and the other racially motivated activities allegedly perpetrated by the North Brunswick Police Department emerged in October 2019, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office got involved, which is normal practice, according to the statement.

The outcome of the prosecutor’s investigation “was promising” and there was no criminal activity discovered, according to the statement.

According to Womack, “Instead of taking over our department, the prosecutor demonstrated confidence in our capabilities and credibility by turning the investigation back over to the township. We subsequently sought a third-party investigator because we believe in transparency.”

“NBC New York did reach out to the department,” Capt. Brian Hoiberg, the police department’s spokesman, said in the statement. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t respond at the time because one of the NBC subjects has pending litigation against the department. It is simply a matter of someone saying awfully bad things about awfully good people. We have to stand up for those good people.”

Womack went on to add “a few examples of our transparency and operational innovations that protect both civilians and officers.”

He cited recorded consent searches that require the presence of a supervisor, the use of body-worn cameras, laser video traffic enforcement that captures a vehicle’s speed at a distance where the officer cannot see the driver or passengers, and diverted patrols which place officers in an area long enough to mitigate public safety hazards.

Womack emphasized that anyone who believes they have been treated unfairly should report it immediately.

“We dedicate resources to investigate every citizen complaint. If the initial investigation doesn’t yield satisfactory results, we direct citizens to the prosecutor’s office. At the end of the day, all anyone has is their reputation. Ours is impeccable,” the mayor said in the statement.

John Durso Jr., a spokesman for WNBC, said, “We stand by our reporting.”