NEW BRUNSWICK — A former New Brunswick police sergeant with mishandling 81 internal affairs investigations over a five-year period, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and New Brunswick Police Director Anthony A. Caputo announced.
Richard Rowe, 43, was suspended on March 21 without pay after the New Brunswick Police Department discovered that internal affairs files to which he was assigned were missing, officials said.
Following the discovery of the missing internal affairs files that were entered in the records of the New Brunswick Police Department as investigated and/or closed by Rowe, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Office of the Attorney General were notified and an audit was immediately commenced by the New Brunswick Police Department.
All internal affairs complaints handled by the New Brunswick Police Department during that time period, and not just those handled by Rowe, were reviewed. Any incident where the file was missing, had not been investigated, and/or deemed not properly investigated, was re-opened and re-investigated to completion.
The New Brunswick Police Department also implemented changes to its internal procedures to better ensure oversight and accuracy and to further safeguard record-keeping while maintaining the integrity of investigations, officials said.
Despite these safeguards, and in the hope of promoting public confidence, the New Brunswick Police Department has now requested increased oversight of its Internal Affairs Division by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
In response, Kaplan announced today that the New Brunswick Police Department will notify the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office whenever internal affairs complaints are filed. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will review each investigation and proposed findings of the New Brunswick Police Department before each case can be closed.
After a lengthy investigation, the New Brunswick Police Department charged Rowe with two crimes: Tampering with Public Records or Information, a third-degree crime; and Obstructing the Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function, a fourth-degree crime.
Rowe, who began working as a city police officer on Aug. 20, 1990, was earning $123,202 annually when he was suspended without pay. Rowe was assigned to the Internal Affairs Division from Sept. 23, 2002, to March 17, 2008. He subsequently resigned on Aug. 4, 2011.
If convicted of the two crimes charged, he faces a maximum of six and a half years in prison and would be banned from holding any public job, officials said. However, as in all cases, a grand jury will decide the appropriateness of these charges and will decide if other charges should be filed.
Based upon the audit and the recently-concluded reviews and re-investigations, it is alleged in the complaint that, between 2003 and 2007, Rowe knowingly made false entries in New Brunswick Police Department records indicating that 81 internal affairs investigations assigned to him had been completed, knowing he had failed to conduct, complete or otherwise properly close out those investigations. Further, the complaint alleges that Rowe removed, concealed or destroyed some of the files regarding the 81 investigations.
In an effort to avoid unwarranted suspicion or speculation, Kaplan further announced that neither of the two officers involved in the Sept. 22 shooting death of Barry E. Deloatch, 46, of New Brunswick was the subject of any use of force/excessive force investigations while Rowe was assigned to the unit.
However, one of the investigations mishandled by Rowe did involve one of the officers linked to the Deloatch shooting. During an incident on May 23, 2006, an internal affairs complaint was filed against that officer and his partner by a New Brunswick resident, who charged that they failed to comply with the resident’s request to file a criminal complaint in a domestic violence incident. The complaint against these officers was investigated by a supervisor, but Rowe is alleged to have failed to properly close out the file. The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, officials said.
The investigation into the shooting is active and is continuing, according to the prosecutor’s office.
As with all defendants, Rowe is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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