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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Peas in a pod

Police sources say that former Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago, recently ousted for violating the city's residency ordinance, may have applied to take over as Camden's police director but was turned away by state Attorney General Anne Milgram.

The man who did take over, however, seems to be cut from the same cloth as Trenton's controversial former director. Like Mr. Santiago, new Camden director Louis Vega had a penchant for wasting police resources on investigating ridiculous incidents, sometimes in which he was a victim.

The Courier Post's Leo Strupczewksi reported earlier this month that Mr. Vega ordered officers in his former jurisdiction of Miami to investigate the fraudulent use of his credit cards in place like New Jersey and Ohio, according to the Courier Post - far outside of their jurisdiction in Miami.

When the detectives told of the incident to an independent county ethics board, they were transferred into different positions, action which was later ruled as retaliatory by a Florida civil service board.

Recently Mr. Santiago ordered dozens of high-ranking officers to spend many hours of expensive overtime investigating statements made by a Sgt. Tony Manzo to a dispatcher. The radio room employee ordered the sergeant from a perilous homicide scene to go investigate a less serious suspicious persons call.

Some say that Mr. Santiago had it out for Sgt. Manzo, so he used all of his power and wasted numerous man hours on investigating the sergeant's statement, which was something along the lines of "Let's take it outside". That certainly seems similar to what Mr. Santiago told City Council members earlier this year, during a council meeting.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Santiago ordered a full-out investigation of an incident in which his illegally parked police Crown Victoria was ticketed after officers found it parked halfway into an intersection near a Chambersburg eatery.

No one knows how many hours and city tax dollars were spent, err wasted, on that event by the angry director, but it certainly paints a picture in which Mr. Santiago and Camden's new director, Mr. Vega, appear to be two peas in a pod.

In what would become a frequent occurence, non-favored officers involved in the parking affair were assigned to midnight shifts in headquarters and other less savory police work following the incident. Sound familiar?

Sometimes it seems that they don't make em' like they used to, when it comes to law enforcement leadership in Trenton and Camden.

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