Ex-NJ Police Boss Speaks About Photo
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) _ Gov. Christie Whitman’s attorney general and chief of staff _ both of them now justices on the state Supreme Court _ were present in 1996 when she was photographed frisking a black man during a police ride-along, the former state police superintendent says.
Former Superintendent Carl Williams, who was fired by Whitman in 1999 for linking drug trafficking to minorities, told reporters Thursday that Whitman was joined in the police van by Deborah T. Poritz, then attorney general, and Peter G. Verniero, then Whitman’s chief of staff.
Poritz is now chief justice of the Supreme Court; Verniero is also a justice. Both were appointed by Whitman.
Whitman on Thursday denied they were along, as did Supreme Court spokeswoman Winnie Comfort.
``Mr. Williams is wrong,″ Comfort said.
The photograph, taken by an officer during a visit by the governor to Camden, was subpoenaed in May by several black and Hispanic troopers who claim their superiors subjected them to discrimination.
Whitman, whose administration have been dogged by accusations of insensitivity to minorities, has rejected any attempt to associate the patdown search and the 4-year-old photograph with the practice of racial profiling, in which police target suspects based on race.
During the governor’s visit to Camden, state troopers offered Whitman the chance to search a suspect. Whitman said she accepted because she felt it was her duty to experience all areas of police work.
Williams said Thursday that he opposed Whitman’s visit but was powerless to keep her off the streets: ``She’s the governor. She’s the boss.″
The govenor fired Williams after he was quoted as saying that minorities are more likely to be involved in cocaine and marijuana trafficking.
Last week a judge dismissed Williams’ lawsuit that claimed Whitman, Verniero and other officials improperly asked for his resignation.