Let’s suppose you’re a member of a 16-person police force in a small, Jersey Shore Town, which, like many Jersey Shore towns in the summer, particularly on the weekends, attracts lots of non-locals (referred to as “Bennies” by the locals). The Bennies (alas, I suppose that I am a Bennie) brave the Parkway traffic to spend some time “Down the Shore” often to frequent the many drinking establishments and, regrettably, all too often to act like assholes.
Let’s further suppose that it is the weekend and you and your partner are on duty when the bars close at 2 a.m. You get a call to respond to a disturbance involving a man (Person “A”) and a woman (Person “B”) outside one of the bars. You both know the drill: You’ve done it hundreds, maybe thousands of times.
You arrive at the scene and see a nasty dispute between Person A and Person B. Once you see that neither of the combatants is injured, the standard drill provides that you and your partner separate Person A from Person B, and you try to determine what the heck is going on. It’s loud, late, and chaotic.
The problem is that, in the midst of all this confusion, a bystander (Person C) decides to tell you his opinion on the matter and how you ought to proceed. You tell Person C to be quiet and get out of the way. Person C refuses to be quiet or to get out of the way. You grab Person C by the arm to move him out of the way, and he resists.
Now, you’ve got to deal with the original combatants and a pain-in-the-ass telling you how you ought to do your job and, in fact, by not getting out of the way and resisting your attempts to get him out of the way, is interfering with your doing your job.
You take the interfering pain-in the-ass (Person C) down and cuff him. During all this his wife (Person D) is telling you what an important guy Person C is. At the moment, you don’t give a damn who Person C is. All you know is that he is being a pain-in-the ass and preventing you from dealing with the matter that brought you to scene in the first place.
Once things are sorted out, you arrest Person C for disorderly conduct. Happens all the time, particularly in the summer when the bars close.
What makes this interesting is that, in this case, Person C happened to be Jerramiah Healy, the mayor of Jersey City, the state’s second largest city. The bar in question belongs to Healy’s sister.
The Mayor’s side of the story is as follows:
As the Mayor (Person C, above) and his wife (Person D, above) were leaving the bar at 2 a.m. after having attended a family graduation party, he saw a man (Person A, above) jumping on the hood of a car outside the bar. Apparently, the “dispute” involved the woman’s (Person B, above) refusal to give Person A a ride. Upon seeing this argument between Person A and Person B, the Mayor (Person C) attempted to intervene and mediate the dispute, specifically urging Person A (the hood jumper) to calm down before the police arrive.
When the police arrived, one of the officers yelled something at Person B (the woman who didn’t want to give Person A the ride), and the Mayor sought to correct the misapprehension on the part of the officer by explaining that Person B had done nothing wrong.
The Officer told the Mayor (Person C) to be quiet and get out of the way. The Mayor, believing that the officer could benefit from his opinion and continued help neither remained quiet, nor did he get of the way. When the officer grabbed the Mayor’s arm to pull him out of the way, the mayor only pulled his arm loose. At that point, the officers sprayed pepper spray at the Mayor, forced him to the ground and placed a knee in his back in order to cuff him. Apparently the arresting officers were not impressed when informed by the Mayor’s wife (Person D, above) that they were dealing with the mayor of Jersey City.
The Mayor vowed to file a police brutality complaint.
For what it’s worth, other bar owners and citizens in the town who are familiar with the manner in which the police manage these things are not buying the Mayor’s version of the events.
It should be noted (particularly for non-Jersey readers who have stuck with this so far) that Jersey City is the County Seat of the infamous Hudson County. Hudson County had already made corruption an art form before the folks in New Orleans ever heard of the word. Indeed, Healy became Mayor after his predecessor resigned after being convicted of fraud. As such, the people of Jersey City were neither shocked nor concerned about the incident.
After all, these same people elected Mayor Healy in 2004 despite the publishing of a photograph showing the then-candidate Healy naked and passed out on his front porch.
You absolutely cannot make this shit up.
Although this story received a great deal of play in Jersey, an e-mail from Dave got me off my arse to write a bit about it.