As reported earlier on LET, Councilman David Fanale of the Franklin Borough New Jersey Council had brought his attacks against law enforcement to a new low. Nearly 200 local LEO’s showed up for the meeting on Tuesday night to express their feelings about his Facebook comments and attitude. The Borough may be quiet, but Mr. Fanale has not been. He continually criticized and belittled the police both in Franklin and elsewhere.
The tipping point to his endless criticism of law enforcement was a picture he posted June 25, 2014. It depicted a Calvin cartoon character urinating on the thin blue line symbol while flashing his middle finger at the viewer. He took it down the next day, but not before the fallout spread nationwide.
He never apologized for offending the police officers or the families of fallen officers. Instead, in a radio interview, he said he thought it was a gay pride symbol, as if that would change how outrageous this gesture was. The thin blue line means a lot police families.
Calls went out for his ouster or recall, which according to Mayor Crowley could only take place after Fanale had served one year, by New Jersey state law. That would be in January. In the meantime, one could only imagine what else he could launch against the police.
Two hundred law enforcement protesters came from as far away as South Jersey and New York City to voice their outrage at his defacing and disrespecting a symbol that meant so much to so many in the law enforcement community.
At the last minute, he chose not to attend. Instead he attended a council meeting in another town to reiterate his complaint against two Roxbury, NJ officers, during a ceremony to promote some of its LEOs. At a time when officers should have been celebrating promotions with joy, he brought his vile criticism to Council Chambers instead.
His absence did not dissuade speakers from letting the Council and Mayor know their feelings toward Mr. Fanale and their demands for his removal. Speakers included local and state officials, all calling for Mr. Fanale’s resignation. Family members who lost loved ones spoke against Mr. Fanale’s crude gesture as well
There was more to this story than the overall demonstration and protest. The individual exoneration of one officer who was the target of Mr. Fanale’s wrath and first brought Mr. Fanale to the public eye has been very important.
In February, Officer Burgos and his partner responded to a fire at a store on Route 23. It was a pet store. Officer Burgos just couldn’t stand by and watch those innocent animals suffer and die. Without any firefighting equipment, he raced into the burning building and saved numerous pets. Everyone lauded him as a hero, except one person, Mr. Fanale.
In a public rant in the local paper in March, he stated that Burgos “isn’t a hero he’s a fool and should face disciplinary action”. What kind of heartless person could make such a comment?
In March, Fanale attacked these Roxbury officers (verbally and in writing) calling them, “pigs, maggots, bullies, thugs, and criminals.” He signed Internal Affairs complaints against them. The complaints were investigated and judged as lacking sufficient evidence to support the accusations made.
Then on June 25, 2014 he posted the infamous Calvin picture. He also posted an obscene picture of two people engaged in a lewd act stating that one of the actors was, “the Chief’s whore.”
Imagine Officer Burgos witnessing these events. He, being vilified among many doesn’t lessen the pain. It intensifies it each time he heard another accusation against the profession he nobly serves.
It must have been very heartening to see the outpouring from his fellow officers on Tuesday. But things only got better for Officer Burgos. Because at the council meeting, which should have been in the presence of his accuser, Mr. Finale, the SPCA awarded him a proclamation for his heroism. This award was well deserved and overdue. Officer Burgos didn’t need to see Mr. Fanale’s face as it was conspicuously absent. It didn’t matter. Some people in his life decided to make things right, for him and the law enforcement family.
During the Roxbury council meeting Fanale attended instead of his own, he announced he was resigning his position as councilman in Franklin Borough. The next day he tendered his resignation citing the stress he and his family were under. Finally, things are made right again.
Captain Robert Cubby served for 38-year years with the Jersey City (NJ) Police Department, now retired. A PTSD survivor, he has been involved in PTSD issues with the CISM team. A prolific author, Captain Cubby focuses on writing about his experiences and solving police problems. He is a National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) instructor about police matters and a frequent conference speaker.