Morristown suspends police chief

Morristown Police Chief Pete Demnitz returns to the witness stand, May 24, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Police Chief Pete Demnitz returns to the witness stand, May 24, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Morristown Police Chief Pete Demnitz, a 35-year veteran of the force, was suspended on Monday by town officials.

“The Police Chief has been placed on paid administrative leave,” town Public Safety Director Michael Corcoran Jr. told MorristownGreen.com.

“No further comment will be provided on this personnel matter,” said Corcoran, a career cop, lawyer and Navy veteran hired in September to oversee police, fire and emergency services.

Capt. Darnell Richardson will serve as Acting Chief in Demnitz’ absence. 

Demnitz could not be reached Monday night for a response. Nor could Mayor Tim Dougherty or town Administrator Jillian Barrick.

UPDATE:

“The police chief is on a paid administrative leave and will return as soon as practicable,” Mayor Dougherty said Tuesday in a statement.

“I want to assure the public that public safety is of utmost importance,” he said, adding that Richardson, the acting chief, has more than 29 years’ experience on the force “and the dedicated men and women of the police department will continue to serve the Town.” Dougherty declined further comment.

In May, a civil jury unanimously ruled that Demnitz had demoted a whistleblowing detective in 2015 as retaliation for reporting the chief for allegedly moonlighting on town time.

Courtroom adversaries Pete Demnitz, the Morristown police chief; and Officer Keith Hudson leave day six of trial, May 24, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Courtroom adversaries Pete Demnitz, the Morristown police chief; and Officer Keith Hudson leave day six of trial, May 24, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Although Demnitz was cleared of any improprieties by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the town imposed restrictions on his freelance work and the jury awarded Officer Keith Hudson $1.7 million in damages. Superior Court Judge Louis Sceusi later reduced the town’s liability to just over $1 million.

Morristown police Capt, Michael Buckley testifies in a civil case that challenges a former Detective Keith Hudson's reassignment, May 22, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown police Capt, Michael Buckley testifies in a civil case that challenges former Detective Keith Hudson’s reassignment, May 22, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Demnitz, a Morristown native, would blame the verdict on the “incomprehensible testimony” of Capt. Michael Buckley, who did not corroborate the chief’s harsh critiques of Hudson’s performance.

 “I don’t lie,” Buckley, a 23-year veteran of the force, said after he testified.

The suspension of Demnitz — whose job pays between $132,000 and $161,00–is believed to stem from fallout from their relationship. Buckley declined to comment on Monday.

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