Some North Bergen police officers say they are ready to talk with investigators from the state Attorney General’s Office, despite a March 23 order from Chief William “Jake” Galvin that they notify him first if they have any discussions with state or federal law enforcement authorities.
The officers say the latest incident involving Galvin’s treatment of a drunk and disorderly North Bergen High School vice-principal the night of the senior prom — and CLIFFVIEW PILOT ‘s investigation into the chief’s actions — has emboldened them to come forward.
Two weeks ago, Galvin came to headquarters at 1 a.m. and ordered the release of Edward Somick, who moments earlier confronted officers trying to break up an argument between him and his neighbor, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
“Don’t you know who he is?” the chief reportedly asked one of his sergeants, a source with direct knowledge of the incident said. Somick, whose mother is dating Mayor Nicholas Sacco, has several relatives who work for the North Bergen Board of Education, including his mother and brothers.
Phone calls and emails to Sacco early Tuesday had not been returned as of late Wednesday.
Somick was “drunk and disorderly” when police showed up at his home at 9012 Durham Avenue around midnight May 14, several sources with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . Somick apparently had returned from the NBHS senior prom to find a car blocking his driveway, another source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Witnesses said Somick had argued with his 18-year-old Hispanic neighbor, calling him a four-letter racial epithet in the process. When police arrived, they said, Somick turned on them, cursing a ranking officer.
Under orders from the sergeants in charge of the scene, Marco Rovelo and David Corbisiero, officers handcuffed and arrested Somick. They put him into a police cruiser, as neighbors and backup officers from Fairview looked on, a source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Once inside, a witness told the news site, Somick banged his head against the patrol car window: “He was completely out of control.”
Records show that Rovelo is #5 on the list to become a lieutenant. Corbisiero is listed #1.
“These sergeants determined that [Somick’s] actions warranted arrest and stated such via radio transmission (which is recorded data),” the source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“Recorded cameras at headquarters will also show [Somick] arrive in handcuffs and placed in the processing room as is any other prisoner (or) arrestee,” the source added.
Around 1 a.m., both Galvin and Capt. Robert Dowd arrived, long after their 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., shifts had ended.
They came “for no other reason than to release [Somick] without charges,” the source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “Both [sergeants] were told they would be skipped on [the lieutenant’s] list if any word got out.”
Galvin went along for the ride as Dowd drove Somick back home, numerous sources have told the news site.
Dowd, the chief’s right-hand man, is considered Galvin’s successor, department insiders say. Both are intensely loyal to Sacco, 64, who, besides serving as mayor nearly 20 years, is also a state Senator — and assistant superintendent of schools of the North Bergen Board of Education.
He is allowed to double-dip as mayor and state senator under a grandfather clause in a state law enacted by in 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.
To this point, some police in North Bergen say, they had been “afraid to fight the machine” — until CLIFFVIEW PILOT began investigating the Somick incident.
Now, personnel tell CLIFFVIEW PILOT that they are willing to speak with investigators from the Attorney General’s Office.
“The only ones suffering from the reign of terror are the citizens of North Bergen,” one officer said.
Galvin has refused to answer any questions about the incident from CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM . He also has refused to produce reports generated by the incident, even though the case number was cited.
Instead, police officials apparently tried to broker an arrangement:
“Chief [William F.] Galvin and Captain Dowd have told me that they would be willing to let you look at a copy of the report in the Chief’s office [Thursday],” township spokeperson Philip Swibinski wrote, “so you can read it and this whole matter can be ended.”
CLIFFVIEW PILOT refused, as a matter of policy.
Swibinski labeled an original CLIFFVIEW PILOT story last week that Somick was initially arrested and then later driven home by Dowd “totally untrue.”
After CLIFFVIEW PILOT emailed 10 questions to Galvin through Swibinski on Thursday, requesting answers within 24 hours, Swibinski wrote back:
“Somick was not arrested. We have no further comment.”
Somick could not be reached. Nor could his mother, Kathryn, who works for the township board of education along with her three other sons, Steven, James and Walter Jr. Any or all are asked to contact
at 201.943.2794 or at
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