By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
City Council approved a settlement Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a police union representative against Sea Isle City, the former police chief and other representatives of the department.
The governing body discussed the settlement in closed session and then approved it by a 4-0 vote during the public portion of the meeting. Councilman Jack Gibson abstained from voting because he is related to a judge handling the case.
Terms were not disclosed. Council President J.B. Feeley, Police Chief Tom McQuillen and City Solicitor Paul Baldini all declined to comment on the settlement, saying that it has not yet been signed by the plaintiff and is still considered pending litigation.
According to a City Council resolution, the suit was filed in state Superior Court in 2017 by Officer Stephen Jankowski, who is the department’s union representative with the Fraternal Order of Police. It was not immediately clear whether it was related to a union dispute with the city and the former police chief that erupted in 2016
In addition to the city, the suit named former Police Chief Thomas D’Intino, Capt. Anthony Garreffi and other defendants.
Jankowski, as union representative, served as a spokesman in a highly publicized “vote of no confidence” against then-Chief D’Intino by the department’s rank-and-file officers in 2016.
The union accused D’Intino of creating a hostile work environment, including allegations of official misconduct, mismanagement, abuse of power and retaliatory behavior toward the officers.
D’Intino retired in 2018 after a 28-year career as a Sea Isle police officer, including 10 years as chief. In a 2017 interview, he offered assurances that the department was functioning normally despite the union dispute.
In denying the union’s allegations, Mayor Leonard Desiderio, members of City Council and the Cape May County Chiefs of Police Association all came to D’Intino’s defense at the time.
They said D’Intino had been unfairly targeted by the police union during an ongoing dispute over grievances, disciplinary action and contract matters.
The police union claimed that the department suffered from “markedly low morale” under D’Intino.
Among his accomplishments as chief, D’Intino reformed what had been a troubled police department, which was formerly under the monitoring of Cape May County, to win full accreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, the mayor said.