A redbankgreen reporter was threatened with arrest by Fair Haven police today when he tried to photograph the wrecked fire department vehicle of former fire chief Shaun Foley.
The incident occurred at the borough’s public works department facility on Allen Street, where the fire department vehicle was partially covered by a tarp, says reporter Dustin Racioppi.
According to Racioppi, he entered the administrative building at the site in order to get permission from DPW supervisor and borough engineer Rich Gardella to take pictures of the car within the borough property.
Gardella was not present, but a DPW employee got him on the phone, and Gardella told the reporter that he was not authorized to make a decision, Racioppi says. Later in the conversation, Gardella denied the request.
At no point did Gardella or anyone at the facility say that his presence constituted a potential violation of trespassing laws, Racioppi says.
Racioppi says he left the property and was preparing to take photographs of the barely visible vehicle from the street when DPW workers immediately surrounded the car with garbage trucks.
Racioppi then got into his car and had just pulled out of a parking space, he says, when two police cars pulled him over.
While checking his license and registration, one of the officers told Racioppi that there were signs marking the facility as private property, and that he could be arrested for trespassing, Racioppi says.
One officer also told Racioppi that “we think you have enough information already.”[UPDATE:] Chief Darryl Breckenridge, who was not previously available for comment, tells redbankgreen that Racioppi should have been permitted to take photos on the property or from the street.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was a misunderstanding,” he says.