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Prosecutor: Safety Director Didn't Break Law During Hackensack Traffic Stop

Ralph Rivera Jr.
Ralph Rivera Jr. Photo Credit: COURTESY: HackensackHousing.org

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Bergen County Public Safety Director Ralph Rivera Jr. didn't break the law when he showed up at the traffic stop of a suspected drunk driver in Hackensack, acting county Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal announced Monday afternoon.

The March 19 incident "is now a Bergen County employment matter," Grewal said.

Because Rivera "is not the executive of a Bergen County law enforcement agency, he is not subject to an internal affairs investigation by the BCPO under the Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Guidelines," the prosecutor said.

County Executive Jim Tedesco suspended Rivera with pay after a county police officer contended that that he interfered with a traffic stop and arrest of a suspected DWI driver.

Rivera, a retired New Jersey State Police officer showed up in an unmarked, county-owned vehicle at the University Plaza stop and told the officer the driver was "a friend of his," county Bureau of Police Services Officer Andrew Kara reported.

Rivera “interrupted and distracted me” several times, the officer contended in an official report.

Kara, a U.S. Marine veteran who joined the force three years ago, took Francisco A. Almonte of Hackensack into custody after he failed a field sobriety test.

After suspending Rivera, Tedesco asked Grewal to investigate "for any criminality," the prosecutor said.

"The BCPO’s Confidential Investigations Unit subsequently conducted a thorough investigation of this matter," he said, adding that he disclosed his findings to Tedesco and to Rivera's attorney earlier Monday.

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