A New Jersey state trooper from Bayonne was indicated for official misconduct for allegedly unlawfully stopping and then following a female motorist in his patrol vehicle while on duty, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Trooper Michael Patterson, 29, of Bayonne, has been indicted for second-degree official misconduct, fourth-degree stalking, and fourth-degree tampering with public records, Grewal said in a statement.
The New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards initially investigated this matter and referred it to the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Corruption Bureau.
The investigation revealed that on January 28th, 2020, Patterson conducted a motor vehicle stop of a female motorist on the New Jersey Turnpike at approximately 9:30 p.m.
Patterson let the woman go with a warning, but he allegedly conducted a second, unwarranted stop of her vehicle a few minutes later when she exited the Turnpike at Exit 11.
Patterson allegedly conducted the second motor vehicle stop in order to make advances on the woman.
He is also accused of disabling the Digital In-Vehicle Recorder (DIVR) in his vehicle to prevent his conduct from being recorded during this second stop, while it is further alleged that Patterson subsequently put the victim in fear by following her to her home in his patrol vehicle.
“The New Jersey State Police maintain the highest standards of conduct for their state troopers, standards which the vast majority uphold as faithful and honorable guardians of the public,” Grewal noted.
“Trooper Patterson allegedly violated those standards and the law, using his authority not to act as a guardian, but to put a female motorist in fear. This indictment reflects our resolve to hold officers accountable if they betray the public’s trust with this type of conduct.”
Second-degree official misconduct carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, including a mandatory minimum term of five years parole ineligibility, and a fine of up to $150,000.
Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, though the fourth-degree charge of tampering with public records carries a mandatory minimum term of one year of parole ineligibility.
“The New Jersey State Police holds its troopers to the highest level of professional standards of any law enforcement agency in the country through a robust system of checks and balances that is designed to not only hold its members accountable, but to serve as a tool to provide training and counseling through early intervention,” added Superintendent of the NJSP Colonel Patrick J. Callahan.
“The alleged conduct revealed in this investigation stands in stark contrast to the core values of the New Jersey State Police and is a betrayal to the public and to the entire law enforcement community.”
Patterson was first charged via complaint summons back in June.