The rift between the rank-and-file officers and police brass in Elizabeth, New Jersey seems to be getting deeper. The two biggest police unions in town have made it clear – they do not trust their boss.
June was not a very good month for police director James Cosgrove. First, the Police Benevolent Assoc. voted 105 to 88 in favor of “no confidence.” A few days later, the union representing Elizabeth’s sergeants, lieutenants and captains, voted “no confidence,” 35 to 27.
Some of the grievances listed on union documents were: favoritism and retaliation, a hostile work environment between officers of different races, lack of clear standards governing promotions, cost savings over officer safety and “open vilification of unions to the public.”
Union members also claim there is pressure to contribute to political fundraisers in order to be considered for promotions. “Decisions are based upon a system of politics that seeks to consider at first only the interest of a few people who belong to a dominant party,” the list says.
Cosgrove is a longtime supporter of Mayor Chris Bollwage — a Democrat who’s served 6 terms as head of New Jersey’s fourth largest city.
Bollwage -who’s running unopposed this year for a seventh term – appointed Cosgrove back in 1998. Cosgrove had spent more than three decades with the Newark police force, where he “rose to the rank of deputy chief.”
The ‘no confidence’ vote is largely symbolic, but if Mayor Bollwage chooses not to address it, experts say the unions can file a lawsuit, if they believe the police director is violating the law.
One source told nj.com that “relations between officers and Cosgrove have become so bad that officers stress more about the internal politics of the department than about responding to dangerous situations, such as active shooters or violence targeted at police.”
Cosgrove is no stranger to controversy. He was investigated by the FBI for a 2004 incident, where he allegedly threatened to kill a man at a local restaurant.
There’s also been other questionable police conduct in Elizabeth over the last decade. A News12 “I-Team” investigation exposed officers throwing beer parties while on duty, just outside police headquarters. And in 2014, almost 2 dozen officers were investigated for allegedly working no-show jobs with the city’s housing authority.
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