Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hellwig is Suspended

City Council President Annie McWilliams confirmed Saturday that Police Director/Public Affairs & Safety Director Martin Hellwig has been suspended.

Plaintalker's e-mail to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs early Friday was not answered, but sources said Hellwig had been suspended for three days. McWilliams said she was informed of the suspension Friday, but could give no further details as it is a personnel matter and she did not want to infringe on Hellwig's rights as an employee.

Commenters began responding to Friday's blog post in which Plaintalker noted that Hellwig and Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson were the only two cabinet members to serve the entire four years of the mayor's first term and to be reappointed to serve concurrently with the mayor's second four-year term. Click here to see his resume, which includes many years in law enforcement before taking the civilian posts in Plainfield. Plaintalker cannot post the allegations made by commenters.

Hellwig is in charge of both the Police and Fire divisions. No official reason for the suspension has been revealed. McWilliams said the full council has now been apprised of the suspension. City Hall will be closed Monday for the President's Day holiday, so an official statement may not come until Tuesday or later. As a department head, Hellwig reports to City Administrator Bibi Taylor, who was just sworn in last week.

Hellwig was in the news recently after the Plainfield Police Benevolent Association announced a vote of no confidence in him following his proposal to demote three police captains for budgetary reasons. In April 2008, he became police director following the City Council's vote to abolish the title of police chief. Hellwig received no extra compensation for the title in addition to serving as department head. A salary range for the police director title was passed just last week at the Feb. 8 City Council meeting and will take effect 20 days from that date.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is very fishy. I hope the Mayor and City council will not try sweep this under the rug as have happened in the past *yeah right*. What were on the emails that warranted a suspension? How did this come about? What probable cause warranted Hellwig's computer to be confiscated? Who confiscated the computer? Was it more than emails? Was this a paid suspension?
Unlike the CPTs that are being demoted for doing nothing wrong, will this event be caused for his demotion to CPT *teasing*. The politicians who supported Hellwig, will soon find themselves in a precarious situation. They have no choice but to stand behind him or look like hypocrites. The Director of Public Safety (Police and Firefighters) integrity must be beyond reproach. How else can he punish or enforce the law he himself violated. I hope someone in leadership will Do The Right Thing, and not what is so typical of politicians

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very fishy. Sending e-mails to friends usually warrants a reprimand not a suspension. I hope the council does probe more and stick to their promise of transparency in government. Our public officials are held to a higher standard, especially those that we entrust to manage our governments and keep us safe. Operating with integrity should become a hallmark of our City government, and I do believe that members of the Council want to operate with integrity. I also know that sometimes politics gets in the way of being true to one's beliefs. Let's hope we truly do have some "new democrats" on the council.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's just plain bullshit.

Here's what we know: Hellwig recommends demoting three chiefs, ostensibly to effect budget cuts, then the PBA votes no confidence in Hellwig. A couple of weeks later, Hellwig is suspended, without any official reason, but involving rumors about a office computer. Nobody suspends the head of public safety in their town without a really good reason, unless the real goal is to embarrass and intimidate.

Who has the strong backing of the cops, who have a motive to get Hellwig, and who has enough juice to influence the mayor into suspending her top police guy? Hmmmm. Maybe Jerry Green is coming out of hibernation after a quiet winter.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mess around with the cops and they will find something on you!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's try to stick to the facts. Director of Public Safety was quietly suspended for three days. The questions should center around that. What warranted this suspension? How often do Directors of Public Safety get suspended? Seems there are a lot of questions that still need to be answer. It is very telling we've heard from Bernice and Doc on this suspension but nothing from Dan Damon. Smells like a cover-up to me

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can have any life you want but not a tax payer’s expense. If you have enough time to arrange booty’s calls that means you are not to busy in the station; in our crime ridden areas you could have been preventing crime patrolling which is what you get paid board. I do not care what an individuals likes are but not on my dime when taxes, PMUA, PSE&G and everything else is going up. Someone owes me and every other tax paying person back some money.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a lot more to this that will come out. The state police don't come and seize your computer for personal emails at work. This is reported to also involve a city vehicle (other than his own probably because his has municipal government plates).

You don't just get a 3 day suspension. You get served with a much larger suspension, fight it and then plead to a smaller one. In this case, it is rumored to be a # week suspension that he pled down to a # day suspension. He still had his city vehicle and even went into headquartes to visit his office during the suspension.
If one of his officers were suspended they would have to surrender their badge, ID and handgun for the time period they are suspended if more that 8 hours.
Ironic that the city council and mayor had a press conference backing him and now this! They must be very embarrassed, I would be.
You think the PBA didn't have any confidence in him before, you should ask them how they feel now!

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bernice,
Long time reader first time writer as a former employee of the Courier maybe you can find out why they stop the police blotter in Plainfield and why didn't they write a story about the Directors suspension? Think city hall has the local press n there pocket.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Before I retired in 2003, the management stopped assigning reporters to cop runs. The only ones you see now are reports that police submit to the newspaper.
I believe there will be coverage of the Hellwig matter. The Plainfield reporter was out of the office. I do not believe City Hall has any sway over the newspaper.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think 9:07 raises a good question. I am not recommending that something happens to Hellwig. I actually like him and think that he has done a good job. I just question what seemed to a double standard in the treatment of the superintendent. I question whether race is at play here?

Any thoughts?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoted from Central Jersey's website - "Hellwig confirmed Tuesday that he served a three-day suspension Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week before returning to work this week.
He said the reason for the suspension was using a work computer for personal purposes, specifically entailing a short exchange of e-mails that took place last year"

"I feel I'm held to a higher standard, and appropriately so," Hellwig said. "I'm moving on because I understood the ramifications and accepted the punishment ... as far as I'm concerned, it's a new day."

I'm sorry but there is more to it than that. You don't suspend anyone at any level in the City of Plainfield. I think it would be a safe bet that if you are a city employee and have a PC, you used it for personal use at one time or another just as used the phone for personal calls or took home a pen or two.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that white man get suspended for???? Black Asst. Superintendent choked Black Principal. No action taken by the BOE. Black Superintendent uses his south plainfield address to assist in the deception of South Plainfield Schools and there are no consequences. It's gotta be a black thing!

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can the Administration back the Director after a PBA vote of "no confidence" one day and turn around the next and suspend him for a frivolous thing the next.

I agree, there's got to be more here than they are letting out but I'm sure in time, we will find out.

Hmmmm, are documents, including email, on a City computer a matter of public record?

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Suspended for 3 days for using a city computer for personal emails?

I guess the next step is for the new IT director to step in and block specific domains that provide email services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Oh wait - can't do that because most city employees use outside sources for their email instead of using a address.

8:44 PM  

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