Published on Jul 19, 2016
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NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP — Three Newtown Township officers were recently promoted, including one who was disciplined last year for his role in the handling of a traffic incident involving an allegedly drunken off-duty Bucks County sheriff's deputy.
According to the township's Facebook page, the officers promoted were Christian Joseph, Jason Harris and Patrick Hardy.
Hardy was one of four officers who were disciplined for not mentioning alcohol in an Aug. 13 incident report involving now former deputy sheriff Joseph F. Rafferty III. The report categorized the incident as a "driver assist/disabled vehicle" and noted that Rafferty was given a ride home and the car was towed to a secure garage.
After further investigation, Rafferty was charged with drunken driving and is awaiting a court hearing.
Hardy was one of the four officers to respond to Stoopville Road and Hemlock Drive for a request to assist a motorist that day, according to a police report. They found a Bucks County sheriff's car with the spare tire on. The driver was Rafferty, police said.
During the investigation, court records note, it was determined that Hardy saw Rafferty near the front passenger side wheel "stumbling and swaying" as he walked toward the officer's vehicle.
When Hardy asked Rafferty why he was driving impaired, Rafferty replied he was driving his kids home, records show. While no children were in the car at the time, police said they determined that three of his children had been in the vehicle shortly before it got a flat tire.
Hardy was joined at the scene by Officer Shane VanDerMark, Sgt. Stephen J. Meyers, who signed off on Hardy's report, and Cpl. Shawn Pirog, according to the court records. The four of them said they observed Rafferty "stumbling and swaying" and that his words were "slurred and delayed," records show.
Police admitted during the investigation that they found a half-full bottle of Skyy pineapple vodka on the floor of the county-owned vehicle and a plastic bottle containing a clear liquid in the car's cup holder, the court records note.
Newtown Township Chief Henry Pasqualini reviewed the incident report and later reprimanded the officers involved. No details of the disciplinary actions were released.
Hardy was promoted to corporal and sworn in Feb. 8 by District Judge Michael Petrucci.
Harris was promoted to detective sergeant and Joseph to sergeant. Neither was involved in the Rafferty incident.
This news organization was unsuccessful in reaching Pasqualini for comment Tuesday.
What in the name of trampled justice is going on here?
One moment, four members of the Newtown Township Police Department were disciplined in October for "procedural and policy deficiencies" (a cover-up?) regarding a traffic encounter in August with then-Bucks County deputy sheriff Sgt. Joseph F. Rafferty III, who, after slurring his speech and being unable to stand without assistance at a traffic stop, admitted to driving drunk in a county-owned vehicle after hours, according to an affidavit.
Four months after the discipline, one of the officers, Patrick Hardy, has been promoted to corporal.
Someone rouse me from this slumber because this can't be real. What depth of the "Twilight Zone" have we all fallen into when up becomes down, black becomes white, and wrong becomes right? There should be a commotion about this promotion.
Last Wednesday, Hardy, who was among four cops who responded to the aforementioned traffic incident and who failed to list the presence of alcohol on the incident report, was among three police officers to receive promotions.
Really? A promotion received so soon after being sanctioned for departmental protocol violations? Why the ink on the disciplinary papers might not yet have dried. Shouldn't a probationary period follow the meting out of disciplinary action for an incident during which cops didn't report a fellow law enforcement officer allegedly driving drunk in a sheriff's department car? Shouldn't such a promotion be moved to a back burner?
Rafferty, who has since resigned, allegedly was visibly drunk when questioned at the scene by Newtown Township police. According to an affidavit, he was seated on the roadside near a county-owned vehicle he had been driving, one that was disabled with a flat tire. Furthermore, the affidavit noted that Rafferty was slurring his speech, unable to stand or walk without assistance, had alcohol in the vehicle, and, as police detected the smell of alcohol on his breath, admitted he had been drinking.
Despite the preponderance of evidence, police ignored it all. The possible cover-up for a fellow law enforcement officer had begun. Rafferty was neither administered a breath test to determine blood-alcohol content at the scene nor arrested on DUI charges. He was allowed to go home. In his incident report, Hardy, the first officer on the scene, did not include the presence of alcohol on Rafferty's breath or in the vehicle.
To protect and to serve.
The responding officers — The Newtown 4 — were disciplined by the department in October, presumably after video recorded by police dashboard cameras revealed procedure had not been followed. Specifics of discipline meted out have been withheld from the public. The dashcam video of Rafferty's alleged drunken stupor, behavior the Newtown 4 ignored, has also been kept from the public, although this news organization continues pursuing legal avenues to obtain it.
In Newtown Township, the wall between police transparency and the citizenry is tall and wide, with no ladders or unlocked gates. The point of incredulity has skyrocketed to the nth degree. Discipline remains under lock and key. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub didn't charge the police officers, reasoning what they did or didn't do didn't rise to the level of criminality. I wouldn't have charged them either; I would have fired them. Clearly, they were ignoring the law for one of their own.
Weintraub did, in fact, charge someone in this case: Rafferty, with DUI, based in part upon viewing dashcam video and also reviewing the officers' statements taken during Newtown Township Police Chief Henry Pasqualini's internal investigation. Perhaps this entire Rafferty affair is something at which new state Attorney General Josh Shapiro might want to take a closer look.
According to the affidavit, Hardy observed Rafferty stumbling and swaying drunk as he approached Hardy's vehicle. He even asked Rafferty why he was driving impaired, meaning he clearly suspected he was drunk. Yet he didn't arrest him.
And now Hardy has been promoted to corporal.
Not long after being disciplined for crumpling up the law for a fellow cop and disposing it like a hot dog wrapper at a ballgame.
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