Prosecutor’s probe finds multiple violations in Palisades Parkway police procedure

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ALPINE -

An investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office into the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department found several violations of police procedure – leading to the suspension of the police chief.

Officials say that Chief Michael Coppola used an incentives program in order to entice his officers to make more arrests and give out more tickets. Coppola apparently gave out $200 meal allowances, prime parking spots and new police cruisers to the officer who doled out the most number of arrests and tickets each month.

The investigation also found that the department routinely violated a policy regarding police pursuits. The policy states that officers cannot chase someone for a motor vehicle violation alone. But the probe found that out of 41 police pursuits, 36 were in violation of this policy.

A motorcyclist died in May 2017 during a chase where officers say that the officers went “in excess of 130 mph.”

"This is an environment there that I thought we had gotten rid of with the last issues that we had, with racial profiling,” says Assemblyman Gordon Johnson.

Johnson is calling for a complete reorganization of the department and wants them to be overseen by the Attorney General's Office or New Jersey State Police.

"These officers and this chief do not report to anyone except when they make mistakes and the attorney general finds out about it,” Johnson says.

Coppola will be suspended for three months. He will also have to attend police management training following his suspension.

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