YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that River Edge Police Chief Thomas Cariddi surrendered his guns due to a domestic violence complaint .
Cariddi’s duty and personal weapons were taken according to a Domestic Violence Act directive from the state Attorney General “and will not be returned without my approval,” Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“There are specific procedures that now have to be followed,” he said.
Those procedures specifically require an in-depth internal affairs investigation, the results of which must be presented to the prosecutor.
Meanwhile, River Edge Mayor Margaret Watkins is meeting with members of the Borough Council tonight to discuss Cariddi’s future. He has remained on administrative leave, with pay, pending their decision, the mayor told CLIFFVIEW PILOT last week.
Under similar circumstances, rank and file officers are placed in “no pay” status and must use accumulated leave time until their cases are resolved.
As of Friday, however, Cariddi, 48, “has not been suspended, has not been removed, has not been fired ,” Watkins told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “He’s just taking a leave.”
The mayor also told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that the chief didn’t have his weapons seized.
That was not true.
Molinelli confirmed that his office carried out the state directives to the letter — meaning that Cariddi already had turned over the guns before last Wednesday, when his leave became official. The state Division of Criminal Justice also has been notified, as stipulated under the Attorney General’s directive.
Officers in all departments who are charged with a domestic violence offense must surrender their duty and personal weapons to their chief. When a chief is involved, the prosecutor’s office takes possession of the firearms.
It’s important to note that even if the complaint is dismissed, Cariddi isn’t automatically returned to active duty — nor does he immediately get his guns back. The decision remains Molinelli’s. It follows a very thorough investigation and includes possible conditions set by the prosecutor for the return of the weapon(s) . That includes being prohibited from bringing a firearm onto premises shared with the person who filed the domestic violence complaint.
The chief also will be required to undergo a psychological evaluation, with the possibility of required counseling. Under the state regulations, he will be able to obtain an independent assessment that would allow him to petition a judge for reinstatement to full and active duty.
If a judge issues a final domestic violence restraining order, the chief could return to work, with his duty weapon, under state law. But he would be prohibited from having any personal firearms.
The day-to-day operations of River Edge’s police department are being run by Lt. Michael Walker, she said. Walker, the No. 2 officer on the force, has served as the Operations Division Commander.
Cariddi , who has suffered from severe back trouble, has been chief since being appointed in 2008 after his predecessor, longtime Chief Ronald Starace, retired.
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