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PBA: Cranford Cop's Rights Were Violated

A PBA complaint charges that Police Chief Mason violated Sgt. Anthony Dobbins' union and First Amendement rights.

The Cranford Township Police Benevolent Association Local 52 has made an unfair labor practice complaint against the township on a claim that Police Chief Eric Mason violated the N.J. Employer-Employee Relations Act

According to the charge, filed by Donald B. Ross Jr, of the Westfield firm Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, Mason violated the union and free speech rights of Sgt. Anthony J. Dobbins who had questioned department morale in an email to PBA members in November.

"It’s not even a formal complaint unless PERC (NJ Public Employment Relations Commission ) decides this has merit and can advance forward," said Interim Administrator Joseph Hartnett. "They can conceivably write back to the PBA and say it doesn’t meet the law."

On Wednesday, Hartnett said he sent the information to township attorney Daniel J. McCarthy and was waiting on word of how to proceed. "Mostly, in my career we’ve been able to work things out locally," Hartnett said.

In the Jan. 11, statement of charge (which is attached to this article as a PDF), the PBA says Dobbins was confronted by Mason for an email he wrote on Nov. 16, 2012. In the email, according to the document, Dobbins wrote "With morale at an all time low in our department I think we need to work hard in the union to acknowledge great works and share in social times as the holiday seasons are upon us."

Dobbins, a 25-year veteran of the Cranford PD had been honored at past events along with other police officers.  According to the PBA statement, Mason questioned Dobbins reference to low morale on the force and allegedly tried to force him to recant his opinion in a new email.

The issue of police moral came up at various Committee Meetings when Dobbins father, Gerald, raised the issue during public comments. He even referenced a confrontation among police at a Nov. 27 public meeting.

"Part of the reason my son is being harassed all the time is because of what I say," the elder Dobbins told Patch in a phone call. "Somebody should do something about the morale."

Mason would not comment on the charges. "Any personnel related issues should be addressed to the Township Administrator, Joseph Hartnett," he told Patch in an email. 

Calls to the attorney, Ross, and Cranford PBA President Steve D’Ambola were not returned.

Camilo H. Smith January 17, 2013 at 07:48 PM
I. Rate, Not turning a bling eye to anything. Thanks for your lengthy comment. If you have any legal documents to substantiate those claims, please upload them to this article by clicking the "Upload photos and video" button above, or email them directly to Cranford@patch.com. That video is not "current" as you say, since it has been addressed on the record many times, for nearly a year. If you'd like to make your case in more depth fashion, please consider starting a blog here: http://cranford.patch.com/blog_posts/new . Thanks.
07016 January 17, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Mason has yet had to answer w/ regard to his directive for CPO not to pursue a now convicted killer. It's been 7 yrs., where's the ACCOUNTABILITY? It is our understanding, a police chief's role is to serve and protect us. In our case, he failed at both. I've written letters, attended township meeting to ask for help yet no answers, no change. Why send victim's child to County, knowing there isn't anything they can do? Why not allow CPO to pursue driver? Why not allow second, very diligent, CPO to follow up with a visit to the residence based owner based on registration? It's not only your job but, you already knew of reports that week involving this accused and now convicted person. Yes, we want answers. Yes, we can change. Yes, there's blood on your Chief's hands. A now retired Cranford FIREFIGHTER sat outside our family's home until killer was caught. This was on his personal time. Nary a word from CPD. Later, our family told the detective where to go to catch this killer. Mason & CPD received MERIT Citations. Why? You let the killer go! Nothing will change what happened but, this still needs to be answered & remedied for potential future victims & family. It's called Protocol. Establish it. Enforce it. CPD holds no accountability, they do not protect in the hour of need. They don't answer a family who wants answers and change. Lastly, if you get pulled over I recommend you gun it, under the direction of Eric Mason you will not be pursued... :(
Camilo H. Smith January 17, 2013 at 09:26 PM
RC, Are you referring to the murder that was brought up at one of the last committee meetings before 2013?
07016 January 18, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Yes Camilo, and still no answers from Chief Mason. Somewhere along the line, he will have to answer on his inability to serve and protect that night. I'd also like to know, who awards CPD Merit Citations? I need a word with them too.
Camilo H. Smith January 18, 2013 at 08:54 PM
RC, Email me ( cranford@patch.com) , I've read the stories about that tragic incident, but I'd like to know more from your point of view why you feel the system failed you.

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