Red Bank mayor says helpless to change cop department, town has great reputation

Allen DeBerry and David Tulis tell about a quick meeting they just had with Red Bank Mayor John Roberts, who says he’s paid only $300 a month in part-time post and has no authority over police activity. (Photo Facebook)

Mayor John Roberts of Red Bank brushes off inquiries about abusive police tactics in the city in an interview with college student Allen DeBerry.

Mr. DeBerry and this reporter are standing in front of City Hall on their arrival and Mr. Roberts comes up, making clear that there will be no sit-down, but that all conversation will be amid the din of passing traffic on a rain-soaked boulevard.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

He says he will make no comment about police activities or police policies because under the city charter he has no authority over day-to-day operations. He also shushes my effort to relay to him my objections to abuse of the citizenry’s constitutionally protected right to record police activity on their smart phones.

Mr. DeBerry says he wants to meet with Mr. Roberts, not to discuss the specifics of the legal case against him, but to offer a positive view about how the city can improve its reputation.

Mr. Roberts says Red Bank has a wonderful reputation — haven’t this reporter and Mr. DeBerry been reading the paper about its developments? While Mr. Roberts has been absorbing favorable reports about his city, he pleads ignorance about the police-sparked riot at The Gallery party venue May 6 that has received heavy coverage on NoogaRadio 92.7 FM 95.3 FM HD4 and elsewhere.

I ask Mr. Roberts if he received a copy of an agenda letter I had sent to Arnold Stulice, the city attorney, about belligerent tactics by the department in violation of the 1st Amendment to the constitution and standards of public decency. He said he had not.

I tell Mr. Roberts that in the digital age, his department needs to look forward and accept technological developments that give members of the public the power to record police interactions at will and with no inconvenience to anyone.  I say he should celebrate the ability of people to record police interactions — for the safety of the officer.

More than once Mr. Roberts holds up his hands tell me to be quiet, as he would speak only to Mr. DeBerry and wants to hear only from him, though prior to the meeting he expressed surprise that I intended to introduce to him Mr. DeBerry.

He asks Mr. DeBerry to play a guessing game about how much he earns, and Mr. DeBerry starts well above F$150,000 a year. The shocker: It’s F$300 a month, and Mr. Roberts indicates he is a mere figurehead. He defers all contact to the city attorney, a downtown lawyer.

In 2014 Red Bank police officer Mark Kaylor, in an example of gangland style policing for which America has become famous, beat a Hispanic man, Candido Medina-Resendez, in a gas station parking lot, a tort that led to his firing. A criminal trial in the case led to a hung jury.

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