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Linden chief, mayor spar over officers

Linden Mayor Pat Vice and Public Safety Director Jeff Laduron argued at Tuesday’s city council meeting over council member’s access to police officers.

Councilman Howard Walters complained that a uniformed policeman would not talk to him concerning a city water leak. Waters said he was told the officer could not talk to the councilman while in uniform.

The public safety director had directed officers to just not talk to councilmen.

Vice said it was important for police officers to take care of business with the council "but not take their complaints directly to the council. Is that understood, Mr. Laduron?"

Vice reiterated his position toward the end of the meeting. "The police are encouraged to perform their public relations duties which includes communicating with the council. If it has to do with police business it had better be cleared by me first – and the director of public safety. Is that as clear as I can make it?

After the meeting, Vice said that he encourages officers to talk to council members, "but if it’s in police business, then I expect each police officer to observe the chain of command – to him (Laduron), to the administrator and then to me."

Vice said there were times in the past when officers would take grievances directly to certain councilmen hoping for more leverage.