DEPARTMENT DROPS NEW POLICE PROBIE
One of two Red Bank men sworn in last week as probationary police officers has already been dropped from the training program, a department official confirmed to redbankgreen this afternoon.
Without offering any specifics, Capt. Steve McCarthy confirmed that Milton A. Gray IV “is not going to be attending the academy” because “he didn’t meet the minimum requirements for a probationary officer at this time.”
Because the matter involves confidential personnel files, McCarthy said he would not be able to comment further.
The sudden reversal is sure to be an embarrassment both for the department and the Borough Council, whose members welcomed Gray into the borough “family” with fanfare last Monday night, citing his actual family’s deep heritage in the town’s fabric.
It also undercuts the borough’s plans to bring on new officers at a time when crime is perceived by many residents to be on the rise, despite assertions by officials that statistics demonstrate otherwise.
The four-month police academy class in which Gray was to have enrolled starts tomorrow in Freehold, leaving Red Bank without enough time to field a replacement. The next class, which calls for both classroom and physical training, starts in the late summer.
Gray and fellow probie Nicholas Malleto were expected to graduate together in June.
redbankgreen‘s inquiry regarding Gray was prompted by a comment posted on the site yesterday by a reader who claimed that Gray had failed a psychological examination. McCarthy declined to confirm the accuracy of that claim.
In the above article redbankgreen reported on a possible explanation for the removal of Milton A. Gray IV as a Red Bank-sponsored member of the current class at the Monmouth County Police Academy.
That explanation was pure speculation and gossip. Including it in our story was bad judgment, shoddy journalism. Most important, it was unfair to Gray.
In particular, the last paragraph of the article relied on information included in a post by a commenter who identified him or herself as “Bisco.” The comment was available on redbankgreen briefly on Sunday before we saw it and took it down as a borderline violation of our new comments policy.
But because the author appeared to be writing from a position of inside knowledge, we asked him or her via email to include his real name if he wanted to have it reconsidered. Our policy gives greater weight to comments posted by people willing to identify themselves.
We didn’t hear back from “Bisco.”
On Monday, we contacted the police department to ask about Gray’s status. The department, through an official, confirmed that Gray was out of the program, but declined to say why.
Shortly thereafter, but before our story was ready for publication, the original comment was reposted, this time under the name “Salina Witten.” We again took the comment off the site, temporarily at least, while we tried to determine if Salina Witten was “Bisco’s” real name.
We never found out. Still, we went ahead and posted our story, citing the Bisco’s claim about Gray’s removal.
Why did we do that? Because we thought it necessary to explain why Gray’s status had even come into question.
No one has asked for or demanded a retraction, but today, someone posted an angry comment about our story. We have taken that complaint to heart, and on reflection, we acknowledge that we violated our own journalistic principals in relying on unverified information from an unknown source.
We still don’t know why Gray was removed. Still, we apologize to him and to all our readers.