PATERSON, NJ– A video showing a plainclothes law enforcement officer searching a parked minivan in Paterson is under review by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, officials said.
The video went viral on Friday after being posted to several media outlets with allegations that the officer was conducting an illegal search of the vehicle.
Officials confirmed that the officer in the video is a member of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office.
“In an effort to assure an independent investigation of the circumstances around the search video, the matter has been referred to the Prosecutor’s Office for a thorough and independent review,” said the spokesman department, Bill Maer.
Maer declined to reveal the name of the officer, when the incident occurred, or whether anyone was arrested. Officials said the incident happened on Union Avenue, near Jasper Street, in Paterson’s 1st Ward.
The video begins with the search already started.
As of Friday afternoon, no information has been released from the prosecutor's office.
In the video, the owner of the SUV walks toward the vehicle and sees the plainclothes officer looking through the trunk area with the hatch open. The officer quickly shuts the hatch and walks away from the vehicle. The man then confronts him.
“What is you in my van for?” the man asks.
The officer is wearing khaki slacks and a red T-shirt with his badge hanging around his neck. His hair is wrapped in a bun atop his head.
The officer tells the man “We’re getting a lot of complaints about guns”
The man asks the officer how he got inside the vehicle. The officer says it “was open.”
Soon a uniformed sheriff approachs the undercover officer and the two of them talk quietly.
The owner of the van asks for the plainclothes officer’s name. The officer says he will give the man his business card. “I want your badge number, too,” says the man.
Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale said he received many calls from community members who mistakenly thought the officer was a member of the Paterson Police Department. Speziale said he checked the video and conferred with the ranking officer. Speziale said the Paterson Police Department was not involved in the incident.
To contact the correct department on Facebook:Sheriff's Department Facebook
Or Passaic County Sheriff's Office
Law Enforcement Division
435 Hamburg Turnpike
Wayne, NJ 07470
Remember to always film the police.
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