Committeeman John Rooney said Friday that it’s entirely possible the rest of township committee did not know about a new car for the township’s public safety director, but the information was there nevertheless.
“Should they have known? Absolutely they should have known,” Rooney said. “The data was there for them to read.”
Earlier this week, voted 3-1 (with one abstention) for the , public safety director. It wasn't until after that four out of five township committee members , not an old Dodge Durango he had been using.
The Charger was part of a new fleet of police vehicles approved earlier this year by township committee. Mayor Don Brauckmann said he, Deputy Mayor Anthony Minniti, Committeeman Ben Young and Committeewoman Kathy Fitzpatrick did not know that line item on the budget was a car specifically for King.
Brauckmann and Fitzpatrick are part of a budget subcommittee that met with Gerry Seneski, then township administrator and chief financial officer, to discuss the budget.
Included in the police department’s “wish list” were nine new vehicles.
“[Seneski] relayed what the department heads were asking for,” Brauckmann said. “We go line by line, item by item, but it was never indicated that the vehicle was going to be for Mickey King.”
Township committee approved the request in the budget vote on April 16 and in a resolution after that.
“We didn’t really hash it out,” Brauckmann said on behalf of the other three aforementioned committee members. ”When the resolution came through, no one asked.”
During the budget process, Seneski first meets with department heads—in this case, King with the . King said the request for the unmarked Charger with no police equipment was in there. Seneski OK'd the request and brought it to committee for review and final vote.
Rooney said he doesn’t remember knowing about King’s car at that time but did know it when he voted for the resolution to authorize the contract.
“I definitely knew when I read the resolution,” Rooney said.
On the resolution, there are two V6 Dodge Chargers—one with $6,000 of equipment, the other with no equipment. The latter is King’s car.
“We all should have known. If we don’t read, [we won’t know],” Rooney said. “Did I know that [the rest of committee] didn’t know? No.”
Rooney initially brought up the idea of King’s 24-hour use of the car calling it “appropriate” for someone in his position.
For example, King—who is in a civilian, not police, position—was called to the township on a Sunday night when a in .
“In some cases, if police officers ... could be hurt or threatened, or there might be a press release, [King] needs to be on site,” Rooney said. “We’ve had officers hurt on the job, he’s got to be there for those.”
Rooney also used the example of .
“Those are his duties to respond to and be the person on site to coordinate activities,” he added. “In a lot of the cases, those things consume all of our resources on site—someone has to be able to coordinate.”
However, King told Brauckmann Thursday he declines the 24-hour use of the Charger. Township committee will discuss the future of the vehicle.