The Fort Lee Police Department has concluded its internal investigation into a March 26 incident in which five minors were left locked in a police transport van outside police headquarters in freezing temperatures for more than 14 hours after a house party bust, said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich Friday. But the results of the investigation, punishments for the officers involved, additional potential action the police department may take and other information will not be released until a hearing and appeals process has been completed.
“It’s concluded,” Sokolich told Patch Friday. “They’re in the middle of preparing their final report. Punishments have been recommended by [Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli]. The officers have been notified upon whom punishment will be levied. Those punishments and the action taken by the police department are subject to appeal and a hearing process. We are now about to start the hearing and appeal process. But I’m not at liberty to disclose what that punishment is, because there’s a final hearing that’s now pending, and I don’t want to prejudice either the borough’s rights or the police department’s rights or the minors’ rights.”
The matter now goes before the borough administrator, who will conduct a hearing based on the findings in the police department’s final report and either affirm or alter the punishments recommended by Ripoli, according to the mayor.
“The hearing will be promptly scheduled to bring closure to this,” Sokolich said, adding that he could not speculate when the hearing will begin or how long it will take.
Once the hearing and appeals process is concluded, the information will be released to the public.
“At one point, yes,” Sokolich said when asked the question, though he also declined to say when that might be.
The three Fort Lee police officers suspended as a result of the incident, whose names have not been released, will remain suspended with pay throughout the hearing and appeals process, Sokolich said.
Ripoli could not be reached for comment Friday.