Writer offers support for Manalapan patrolman

I recently read the outrageous comments by John O’Connor, the attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, in his attack on Manalapan Police Chief Stuart Brown.

O’Connor was the attorney who represented the three black youths who unjustly accused two Manalapan police officers of racial discrimination. The fact of the matter is that O’Connor has no idea what he is talking about. This guy managed to get the Manalapan Township Committee to settle this matter out of court to the tune of $275,000. How can something like this happen?

Why wouldn’t the governing body allow for these two police officers to answer this racial discrimination lawsuit in court so that they could have proven their innocence in the court of public opinion? Is the labor attorney that they hired to represent the township so weak and feeble that he can be intimidated by an attorney such as O’Connor?

Why didn’t the elected officials of the township follow the advice of Chief Brown and allow these two officers to have their day in court? The governing body should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their attorney to settle this lawsuit and not publicly backing these two outstanding officers in the Manalapan Police Department. The taxpayers of the township deserve better, but more importantly, these two fine police officers deserve to be treated with the respect that they have so rightly earned.

O’Connor would like everyone to believe there is some culture in law enforcement which goes to great lengths to cover up and protect those police officers who are suspected or charged with wrongdoing. In this particular instance he would like the public to believe that some sinister force was at work between the Manalapan Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office to protect these two police officers.

Nothing could be further from the truth and O’Connor insults the intelligence of the public for suggesting such a notion. These two police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by every investigative agency involved in this matter. Is O’Connor suggesting that all of these law enforcement agencies were in on some kind of a cover-up?

Let’s get real here. The truth is that O’Connor and his cronies from the ACLU saw an opportunity to make some money off the taxpayers of Manalapan and they went for it.

For more than 20 years I have known Manalapan Patrolman Steven Turner. Unfortunately he was one of the two police officers who were implicated in this racial discrimination matter that led to this lawsuit. The Steven Turner that I know would never, never discriminate against any human being and he would never tolerate another person – even a fellow police officer – to discriminate against any human being in any way, shape or form. In college he was the first and only Caucasian to pledge and become a member of an all-black fraternity.

Steven Turner is one of the most honorable men I have ever had the honor to know and I am very blessed to have him as a friend. He is a loving and dedicated husband and a wonderful father to his two beautiful children. He is someone I am very proud of and I would consider myself very fortunate if I could only be half the man that he is. He goes out of his way constantly to care for sick, injured, homeless and stray animals and he coaches each year a basketball team of special-needs adults.

He also serves as a trustee of the Genevieve M. Hawley Memorial Foundation – an organization that consists of prominent business and political leaders throughout the state whose mission is to give away scholarships and community service awards to deserving college-bound students from all backgrounds from around the state in memory of my late mother. It is an honor for us to have him as a part of our organization.

In closing, I would like the citizens of Manalapan to appreciate the fact that they are very fortunate to have a special person like Patrolman Steven Turner working for them in their community. He, along with the other police officer who was involved in this most unfortunate matter, deserve better.

I would urge Mayor Andrew Lucas and the members of the governing body to pass a resolution honoring these two patrolmen for the work they do every day for the citizens of the township and for all of the other things they do for their fellow man. It is the right thing to do, not only for them, but also for their families who had to suffer with them throughout this ordeal.

Joseph Hawley

President and CEO

Genevieve M. Hawley

Memorial Foundation

Atlantic Highlands