WHAT WE THINK: Let’s get this on the table: I consider New Jersey State Police Supt. Col. Rick Fuentes — who got caught speeding on the Garden State Parkway — a very good friend.
NJ State Police Supt. Col. Rick Fuentes and the author
He’s way up there on my list of all-time solid cops, for several reasons. To name one: He’s opened doors to reporting the substance of law enforcement, the truth, and not just the superficial happy horsespit that the pols want everyone to see.
So, friend or not, I applaud Col. Fuentes for making sure he took the hit and DIDN’T make the ticket “disappear.”
We weren’t given the name or badge number, but a 20-year veteran trooper clocked his boss of all bosses tooling north in his state-issued black Chevy Tahoe in Paramus at 75 miles an hour, 10 mph over the limit, State Police Capt. Gerald Lewis said.
Fuentes got off without a ticket but contacted the State Police Office of Professional Standards to request a summons, which will set the Bergen County native back $160. He’ll also receive a written reprimand.
“He realized he violated the law and took responsibility for it,” Lewis said.
Anyone can make anything they like out of the story — that the trooper was negligent in not carrying out his duty (even though he is allowed that discretion), that Fuentes wanted to avoid a potential scandal if word got out.
But I know what kind of man Rick is. I know the kind of integrity he has — not to mention his sense of humor. I hope I’m at the next dinner he’s asked to address.
Remember, Fuentes’s department was draped in negative press and bad feelings when he took over, and now he runs one of the tightest paramilitary-style ships in the country. It constantly produces innovative technologies and approaches and receives praise for the way it polices its own.
Next time I see him, I’m paying for dinner — and reporting it.
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