In a lawsuit filed on Friday, two Jersey City police officers are claiming that the City’s policy of firing officers who test positive for cannabis use was enacted by Mayor Fulop to “win over more conservative voters needed for his gubernatorial campaign.”
The two officers, Norhan Mansour and Omar Polanco waged a year-long battle for reinstatement after they were fired following positive cannabis tests. In separate decisions earlier this year, the Civil Service Commission told the city to rehire both, adopting the reasoning of two administrative law judges who found cannabis use protected by New Jersey’s constitution. Last month, Jersey City filed a federal lawsuit against the state arguing that federal gun laws preempt New Jersey law and compel the city to terminate the officers.
The new lawsuit asks the court to order Jersey City and its clerk, Sean Gallagher, to produce 20 emails Mansour and Polanco believe will demonstrate that Jersey City’s policy is “a ruse done solely to bring attention to” Mayor Steven Fulop and “assist his gubernatorial campaign to the detriment of Jersey City employees as well as taxpayers who are know footing the bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees.”
As evidence of the political nature of the policy, the officers cite an email to Fulop from a political consultant referencing the policy and a subsequent email from Fulop to Director of Public Safety James Shea in which the mayor notes the “Little revolt we started.” The officers characterize the mayor’s statement as “flippant.”
The city has objected to the emails’ production citing “deliberative process privilege” which can protect from disclosure materials that are created as governmental decisions and policies are formulated.
The officers appended to the complaint a schedule showing that the city has spent $374,000 in legal fees defending a policy they say violates their constitutional rights.