Authorities in New Jersey say a police chief was arrested this week on suspicion of purchasing narcotics online and negotiating a plan to delivery it to an area post office.
According to the North Jersey Record, 43-year-old Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Chief Michael Coppola allegedly placed the order through the internet and went to pick up what he thought was the package at a Passaic County postal facility.
Instead, Bergen County investigators had reportedly intercepted the order and replaced the illicit shipment with a synthetic powder.
After the suspect left the post office, detectives pursued him and pulled him over in Ridgefield Park, where he was taken into custody.
The allegation against the chief came with few additional details from prosecutors or law enforcement. But it is the latest negative publicity in recent weeks for the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department.
The Bergen County prosecutor’s office released a report last month detailing claims of widespread abuses by officers within the department. An outside monitor was introduced to the agency late last year and tasked with keeping an eye on how it operated.
As of the latest reports available, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission had not determined what, if any, action it would take regarding Coppola’s position as chief. He has held the title since 2014.
“We only found out this afternoon and only have limited information,” said executive director Jim Hall.
Other local leaders, however, are pressuring officials to remove him as part of much needed department-wide improvements.
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson said he knew the agency had deep issues prior to Coppola’s arrest and is pushing legislation that would put control of the department in the hands of the state attorney general’s office.
“In no way can we have a police chief in New Jersey be involved in this type of behavior,” he said of the latest controversy.
[Credit: Michael Coppola, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office]