Police and Law Enforcement News
Thursday, December 20, 2012
the early part of last March, New Jersey State Trooper Randy
Pangborn learned that an internal affairs complaint had been lodged
Normally, this is
not a very big deal, but this was a rather serious charge stemming from
a motor vehicle stop Trooper Pangborn had made about a week earlier.
And the accuser was a member of the New Jersey Legislature.
Backed by the full
weight of his political office, the letter was prepared on official
letterhead and sent directly to the colonel of the New Jersey State
Police according to the Star Ledger.
In the letter,
Assemblyman Nelson Albano accused Trooper Pangborn of specifically
targeting him on his way to the Statehouse. It said the trooper
requested backup and had other troopers box in his car making Albano
embarrassed and disrespected as a legislator."
"There was absolutely no reason to treat me like a criminal and detain
two other troopers from public safety while trooper Pangborn conducted
his charade," the letter read
according to the Star Ledger.
But this wasn't the worst of it. Assemblyman Albano accused Trooper
Pangborn of using his position to retaliate against the assemblyman's
"I believe this trooper was, and is, retaliating against any legislator
because of the changes in health care and pension reform," he said.
Make no mistake: that is a criminal accusation, not just a demeanor
complaint. If true, it would take an hour sifting through a 2C book to
compile the appropriate charges. And one would probably begin with
second degree offense of Official Misconduct.
In the end, it came down to the esteemed, elected assemblyman's version
of the encounter vs. that of the rogue trooper.
Oh, but there was a video.
Pursuant to State Police policy, the entire incident was recorded from
the dash camera of Pangborn's troop car.
And the version depicted on the video was nothing like the version
described in the complaint. In fact, it was as if Assemblyman Albano's
letter was describing an entirely different encounter.
As it turned out, Trooper Pangborn never called for back up.
Mr. Albano's vehicle was never boxed in by other troopers.
Trooper Pangborn never did anything that would have, "humiliated,
embarrassed [or] disrespected" Assemblyman Albano, and Trooper Panborn
never treated Assemblyman Albano like a criminal.
In fact, the stop was completely uneventful. The video showed Trooper
Pangborn stopping the car, collecting the credentials and returning to
his vehicle to complete the summons.
Pangborn returned to the car, the driver identified himself as a New
Jersey state assemblyman and asked for a break in light of his previous
support for law enforcement. Trooper Pangborn declined and issued the
That was the
extent of the encounter. At no time did either gentleman raise his
voice, and at no time did Trooper Pangborn treat Mr. Albano with
anything less the complete courtesy.
The complaint has since been withdrawn. The Star Ledger pointed out in
sharply worded editorial, "a complaint he withdrew exactly one day
after The Star-Ledger’s Christopher Baxter questioned him about it."
complaints that are justified. Police officers must be professional and
- absent extenuating circumstances - treat citizens in a respectful
complaints that are a matter of perception. Sometimes an officer and a
citizen can view the same encounter differently and a contrasting
account given by a citizen doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is
And then there are
complaints that are invented.
we're left with two questions.
First, where would this trooper be if not for the video? An accusation
made by a person of such high standing would have - at a minimum -
caused serious damage to the trooper's career.
second question is more complicated.
Law officers are held to a high standard. We should be.
We are entrusted
with an incredible amount of authority: the power to detain, the power
to search persons and possessions, the power to seize property, and the
power to use force.
We are regulated,
checked, and balanced from every corner. The state policy outlining the
internal affairs process alone is 119 pages.
So, our second
question is this: now what? To what standard are New Jersey
legislators held? How many pages are in their internal affairs policy?
And what disciplinary action will be taken here?
Our guess would be
none, zero, and none.
prove us wrong. We'll see.
Congratulations to Trooper Pangborn for being
cleared and nice job during the stop. Very professional.
your Thoughts on This Column
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NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS! Please.
They should file charges against Albano for falsifying an official
As a Correctional Officer I've dealt with numerous of complaints sent to
I.A, simply because I was doing my job. Sadly the complaints with no
recording of the incident get reviewed and criticized the hardest, and
at times investigated by the prosecutors office.
I feel (as Mr. Assemblyman states "humiliated, disrespected &
embarrassed") as an officer when this happens.
Where is the trust? Aren't we Sworn in LE Officers?
I believe false complaints such as the ones made by Mr. Assemblyman's
should be deeply investigated, reviewed, disciplined and rectified just
like if it was a officer deceiving the law.
JUSTICE APPLIES TO EVERYONE!! He should be at least
suspended!! I know damn well if it was me making false statements and
jeopardizing the career of a "official," I'd be done.
Four things which can save your life or ruin it: the badge, the gun, the
car or the MVR.
Charges for a false complaint should be filed. The trooper should sue
him for slander and possibly ruining his career to be promoted. We as
law enforcement are held accountable for everything thing we say and do.
False complaints should be prosecuted. The accusation even though false
will stick with the trooper. Citizens legislator or not need to be
taught a lesson just like the trooper would have received if not for the
Using your position as personal gain while on a stop Mr. Assemblyman?
Then to file an IA in conjunction your political office to rid of your
summons at the expense of a hard working troops career? WOW!
Too funny... "I believe this trooper was, and is, retaliating against
any legislator because of the changes in health care and pension
reform," he said.
I guess he's smart enough to know they pissed us off...
Way to go my brother in blue! That's one for the team!
The dash cam protects everyone involved.
I don't get how a legislator making a false allegation against a trooper
has anything to do with giving another cop a break on a MV violation
which we have discretion on.
For the guy wondering why everyone cant have a break, it's because
everyone doesn't deserve a break. A break to a fellow officer is just a
perk they get for running into gun fire when you are running out or when
your infant is choking and you never took the time to learn CPR.
Politicians are generally a bunch of a$$holes. They also normally get
the benefit of the doubt when it comes to an allegation.
I really hope that the NJSP will file criminal complaints against the
politician for filing a false police report.
He should be charged for falsifying and removed as an assemblyman.
The trooper should sue him for slander.
If NJ Police were not so easy about giving every single badge in the
state a free pass for speeding, things like this would not occur,
because no one would expect a "break". If another trooper, sheriff, or
CO can get a "break"...than why not this guy, you or me?
I am glad that trooper Pangborn was cleared of the charges against him.
At the same time shouldn't there be a law that would hold responsible
people who wrongfully accuse other? I think this is a
Congrats to the NJ trooper on being cleared. Finally a bad story
that turned out well. Hopefully the assemblyman will be dealt with just
as the trooper would have been if he were in the wrong.
This situation is a common occurrence on the job as a police officer. As
stated above, I also believe all police vehicles should have cameras
installed. I work for a department that does not have these assets and
one day, we may be regretting that.
Most likely nothing will happen to the legislator who had made the
complaint. But that doesn't mean it is right.
I agree that as a law enforcer one must be held to a higher standard and
so should the legislators. Also the complaint should be treated the
same way as falsifying a police report would be. Criminal charges
should be filed against the original complainant since by the video tap
the legislator lied about the stop.
But we all know that in reality nothing will happen to the legislator!
This type of incident is as old as time itself. Those who hold
themselves above the law by way of position, and expect special
treatment is nothing new.
It will continue as it always has, and the police officers will have to
deal with it in a professional manner as they always have.
One very important fact about New Jersey is that we do not cave in to
politics as many other States do. If this incident would have occurred
in a few States that I will not mention the police officer may have
been fired for doing his job.
Good work N.J. in this respect.
If I was the trooper, I'd file a complaint for filing a false police
Charges for a false complaint should be filed. The trooper should sue
him. We as law enforcement are held accountable for everything thing we
say and do. False complaints should be prosecuted. The accusation even
though false will stick with the trooper. Citizens legislator or not
need to be taught a lesson just like the trooper would have received if
not for the video
This legislator should be charged with making a false complaint.
Stories like this make me so glad I have video in my car. This
troop would have been dead meat without the dash cam.