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A Journey to the Center of the Mind, Book II – The Police Officer Years.


James R. Fitzgerald

Bonus Chapter 51a

(In the Fall of 1985, as things were really heating up politically in the Bensalem PD, us
“Resistance” members compiled a list of much that was wrong at the BPD. It was provided to
our fellow police officers, the politicians running the township, and the press. It ultimately
achieved the desired results. They are, word for word, as follows.)

“List of Complaints

The following is a list of factors and conditions existing in the BPD which adversely affects the
morale and the working environment of a majority of the Bensalem police officers. This list
includes but is not limited to:
1. Prolonged suspension of Chief Viola for questionable reasons.
2. Demotion from rank of Captain to rank of Lieutenant of Jack Robinson for
questionable reasons.
3. Concurrent appointment of Lt. Robert Eckert as prime investigator in Viola case, and
his wife Theresa as Tax Collector.
4. Retaining of Barry Denker’s law firm to act as counsel for Viola investigators.
Denker was attorney for Stephen Kelly, who previously vowed to fire Viola.
5. Unexplained rehiring of former detective without benefit of competitive testing,
violating past precedent established by Township.
6. Unprecedented ordering of officers into taking polygraph tests during the Viola
7. Questionable investigative techniques utilized during Viola investigation which led
A- Convicted felon being major witness in one of Viola’s major charges,
B- Withholding of exculpatory evidence,
C- Federal prosecutors stating that weapons returned to Viola victim/felon is in
violation of law.
8. The suspending, firing, un-firing, then re-suspending of Chief Viola, showing a pre-
determined singular purpose of mind in disregarding legal procedures and costs to
obtain the desired goal of awarding DC Zajac the Chief position without merit.
9. (Blacked out.)
10. When CID Captain finds an item of question in an officer’s desk, he is almost
immediately relieved of CID duties and placed on straight midnight shift.
11. Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Stephen Kelly calling various members of the
BPD corrupt and analogous to the Philadelphia PD’s corruption problem. DC Zajac
takes no action to refute allegations or admonish source.
12. Ward Clark, personal attorney of DC Zajac, to be hired by Township to head this
‘corruption’ investigation.
13. Township drags out police contract negotiations well into 1985 when contract expired
in 1984. This in spite of a budgeted $10,000 raise for DC Zajac.
14. (Blacked out.)
15. Officer arrests well known Bensalem politician on morals charges and shortly
thereafter is called in front of DC Zajac and Lt. Eckert to explain why arrest was
made, and why they were not told of it beforehand.
16. Ignoring eligibility list for rank of Sergeant in filing numerous open slots. Slots filled
by officers who did not even place in the top twenty of the last test.
17. Resolution 84-51, authored and adopted by the Board of Supervisors which calls for
dismissal of Township employees who speak with any litigant against the township.
18. Re-organization of CID by which certain detectives had taken away from them, via
administrative policy, the powers of felony investigations, ability to interview, etc.
19. During the same re-organization of CID the Detective Sergeants had virtually all
authority and responsibility removed from them. Re-organization chart did not even
list a job description for them.
20. Patrol sergeant, exercising permitted discretion, is suspended for ordering one extra
man into work on a busy day, when policy on manpower requirements is very vague
and dubious.
21. Same Sergeant suspended for very minor damage to patrol vehicle while investigating
possible stolen vehicle. Other officers who have caused thousands of dollars worth of
damage to vehicle receive no punishment at all. Charges were ultimately reduced to
written reprimands (which even the Grievance Committee voted on as being
unwarranted), but only after written appeal was forwarded to Township by Sergeant’s
attorney, which requested a public hearing for said charges.
22. Same Sergeant was ordered by Township Manager to appear before Board of
Supervisors. During Executive Session with same he was called a liar by Capt.
Hughes after hearing explanation of incidents which he was suspended for. Capt.
Hughes could not offer any evidence as to why he called Sergeant a liar, only that it
was his ‘opinion.’
23. Failure of DC Zajac to bring any disciplinary action against Capt. Hughes for his
remarks, when he was in clear violation of rules and regulations. Investigation took
over five weeks and results were only forwarded to Sergeant after his second request
for same.
24. Reprimands which were place in personal file above Sergeant by DC Zajac were
never given to Sergeant despite his requests for copies. Upon submitting first written
request for copies of reprimands, it was met by the receiving of three unrelated
harassment oriented memos by Capt. Hughes.
25. Failure of Administrators to abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Collective
Bargaining Agreement in the paying of overtime to officer who was subpoenaed for
various court cases.
26. Officer slighted overtime pay makes intentions known that he will file a grievance to
get pay and is told by a Lieutenant, ‘You will pay the price and face the
consequences,’ if issue is grieved. Following day officer is transferred to another
squad, causing vacation problems and personal hardships for family.
27. Payment made to above officer only after notification to Township by his attorney.
Hiring of attorney again causing personal hardship and monetary loss. Money owed
not fully paid until four months later.
28. Officer not paid for two hours worked because he was out sick previous night and
night after court appearance. This is unprecedented decision and not based on any
contractual decision.
29. Officer not paid two hours overtime after being ordered in to explain military leave.
30. Same officer files a grievance for above non-payment and is transferred to another
squad shortly thereafter, again effecting vacation schedule and causing family
31. Two patrol sergeants transferred from their respective squads within one month after
PBA meeting in which both voiced their opinions against present administration.
32. One of the above Sergeants then transferred again shortly after first change. Sergeant
had three scheduled changes in two and one half weeks, causing vacation problems
and family hardship.
33. Two patrol Sergeants removed from already depleted patrol ranks for dubious
reasons. One Sergeant was and still is working in a truck trailer used for evidence
storing, and the other one made an acting Lieutenant/Administrative Assistant to DC.
Their vacated positions again filled by officers who did not place in the top twenty of
the last promotional test.
34. Creation of an acting Lieutenant position (subsequently filled by above mentioned
patrol Sergeant) despite fact that former head of CID, graduate of the prestigious FBI
National Academy, earning $36,000 per annum, is presently performing the duties of
a clerk/receptionist.
35. (Blacked out.)
36. (Blacked out.)
37. DC Zajac telling a Captain that he knows he (Captain) is one of the main
‘troublemakers’ that cause problems for him in this department. He continued by
asking Captain to tell him who is the author of recent PBA letters. These letters,
which are critical of DC Zajac and his administration, were recently sent to the Board
of Supervisors, and are clearly signed by the PBA President. DC Zajac continued
tirade by stating he would fire all of these troublemakers even if he had to lie and
trump up charges. He then stated that he would even go to the newspaper and tell
them that the Captain had ‘stole money every day.’
38. As morale continues to progressively decline, the absenteeism and turnover rates
continue to climb. Conversely, the productivity rate continues to plummet. A pattern
is again evident within the department regarding the turnover rate. In the years 1980
– 1981, when DC Zajac was previously in command of the PD, nine officers resigned
under him. Many of these officers were well educated, and/or veteran officers who
could no longer tolerate the oppressive regime under which they were forced to serve.
At least four quality officers have already quit, with as many as fifteen officers
currently seriously seeking other employment. Any student of Organizational
Management knows that when aforementioned conditions are prevalent, it is
indicative of serious problems within said organization, and usually at its top.
39. After PBA letters were sent to Board of Supervisors critical of administration, many
officers were subjected to a situation in which they were requested to sign a petition
(prepared, written, and typed on PD time) denouncing said letters. Many officers
were taken off the street and asked by ranking officers, including a Lieutenant, to sign
petition. Sometimes, these discussions lasted upwards of two and one half hours with
a Lieutenant and various senior officers present and condoning activity. After one
officer refused to sign petition, same Lieutenant then ordered him to submit, in
writing, a memorandum stating why he had entered HQ at a certain time instead of
another time.
40. The continued condoning of a certain Sergeant, who is now in the position of Acting
Lieutenant, in the selling of PA State Lottery tickets while on duty, to other personnel
who are on duty.
41. A Captain who several months ago was placed in charge of all Patrol functions made
vociferous motions that he would ‘straighten Patrol out, once and for all.’ His efforts
consist primarily of surveying the police parking lot for officers who parked, even if
momentarily, in undesignated slots. He would then have guilty officer, and officer’s
Sergeant, respond by return memo as to why vehicle was parked there. In spite of all
the problems facing the PD, specifically Patrol, he considered this his priority.
Absenteeism, productivity, etc., were left to continue on their negative trends. This is
the same Captain who spends the first thirty or forty minutes of each working day
reading the Philadelphia Inquirer and doing the crossword puzzle contained therein.
42. Management style of present administration of DC Zajac is based solely on negative
reinforcement. The staff is very quick to point out a minor wrongdoing or slight error
of judgment of selective individuals, but is very hesitant, if indeed at all, to point out
or congratulate officers for jobs well done. Case in point is an incident in May of
1985 in which several officers were involved in a burglary arrest. Officers of Patrol
and CID worked very closely together to affect the arrest of two burglars of a
residence. The street supervisor immediately put all the involved officers in for a
Commendation or Letter of Recognition for a job well done. This would have been a
good morale booster and would have worked to further meld the two divisions
involved. The result: Neither the supervisor nor any of the officers have even been
contacted regarding this matter. Not a word of appreciation or an ‘atta boy’ ever
filtered down from the top. The officers are still waiting to hear something. There
are many other examples of this dilemma which are too lengthy to list here.
However, something as trivial as an officer opening a locked car door for someone,
much ado is made.
43. Chain of Command violations existing within the PD are commonplace. Certain
Captains must answer to certain Lieutenants and/or Sergeants, and in one case, a
Sergeant had direct supervision over a Captain for an extended period of time. Also,
certain officers of one rank are known to order certain other officers of equal rank or
even superior rank, all under the seemingly permissible eye of DC Zajac.
44. The position of Acting Lieutenant created for a certain Sergeant when there seems to
be no need for the position. There are no new vacancies in the rank of Lieutenant,
and there are no major job description changes, yet this Sergeant has been receiving
Lieutenant’s salary since early August, 1985, performing in an unknown capacity.
This ‘promotion’ is apparently to be for an extended period of time as this
Sergeant/Lieutenant’s name has been taken off of the newly revised patrol schedule,
and his time card has been removed from its position among other Sergeants’ card
45. Union-busting tactics were recently implemented in an attempt to discredit several
letters which were sent to the Board of Supervisors by the PBA, which is the official
representative of the BPD officers. Several officers, evidently with permission of DC
Zajac, were allowed to prepare a petition and spend on-duty time trying to garner
support and signatures for it. Petition was a strongly worded denunciation of the PBA
President who sent the letters, and the issues which the letters addressed.

In closing, some points of interest. Of the…items mentioned, it is clear that more
than several of them have to do with squad transfers of various officers. It must be
pointed out that during the last twenty-one months that this administration has been in
power, no other patrolman or patrol Sergeant has been transferred from one squad to
another except the ones mentioned here. The only time this administration changes one’s
squad, schedule, etc., is when one speaks up against them or attempts to carry out his
rights as set by the contract, and for that matter, the U.S. Constitution.
There are many other examples of continued harassment and civil rights violations
which could be pontificated upon here but they are in various stages of the litigation
process at this point and cannot be printed at this time.
The hope here is that this document serves as a catharsis of sorts in finally addressing
these ongoing problems which have plagued many of the BPD officers for some time
now. Hopefully it will result in a positive change, and not one of further harassment
towards the individual officers who are referred to.
Respectfully submitted,
Gerald D. Judge (President PBA)
Robert C. Juno (Vice-President PBA)
Lois S. Kirgin (Secretary PBA)
Patrick D. White (Treasurer PBA)”