Today’s Asbury Park Press, in a story about rising overtime costs for employees of Middletown, reports that seven members of the township police department called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday.


The news is contained in the context of a report that Middletown doled out $155,236 in overtime payments to employees from Jan. 1 to Feb. 19. Now, some members of the governing township committee are calling for cutbacks in the practice of paying OT for non-emergency services.

The grabber in the story for many readers, though, is the bit about the Super Sickout. The story doesn’t say how many officers were scheduled to be on duty the day the Giants beat the Patriots for the NFL championship, or how much the town paid out in OT to replace the seven who stayed home. Through Feb. 19, the police department racked up $47,972 in OT, the newspaper says.

Police Chief Robert Oches could not be reached for comment on whether the department is investigating the fact that seven officers called out sick on the day the Giants became champions.

Police who stay past the end of their shifts to handle incidents receive overtime payments far more often than officers who receive the pay during major televised sporting events, [Mayor Gerard] Scharfenberger said.

“It was a unique event,” said Scharfenberger, who referred questions about how Middletown is handling the incident to Oches.

Separately, the Press reports on the fallout of a ticket blitz by Cpl. Frank Holden, who cited 14 township police vehicles for out-of-date inspection stickers the day before he retired in December.

A municipal court hearing, moved to Holmdel to avoid conflicts of interest, began yesterday with the Holmdel prosecutor telling the judge he hadn’t yet seen the tickets, which Middletown is contesting. So the case was put off for a future date.

But it sounds like an interesting hearing:

Richard Leahey Jr., an attorney representing Middletown, told [Judge Mary H.] Casey that Holden never filed a police report for the summonses. Middletown would also like to know why Holden issued the tickets in the way that he did, Leahey said.

Police officers rarely, if ever, file police reports for something as rote as tickets for
expired inspection stickers, Casey told Leahey. The judge said the primary concern in the case should be whether the summonses are valid.

Casey and Leahey exchanged heated words over what role Middletown should play in providing information about the tickets to Campo.

“If you can’t figure out whether you’re the prosecution or the defense, perhaps you’re not the person who should be here,” Casey told Leahey. “Clearly, you’re the defendant.”

Middletown Police Chief Robert Oches, who did not attend the morning court session, could not be reached for comment.

While Oches has acknowledged that several of the ticketed police vehicles had expired inspection stickers, he has questioned the validity of some information Holden included in the summonses.

Holden has said he wrote the tickets out of concern for the safety of police officers. Several township officials have labeled him “disgruntled.”

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