ASBURY PARK, NJ – An Asbury Park police officer and a former city Special Law Enforcement Officer, Class 2 (SLEO-2) entered guilty pleas today admitting they vandalized vehicles belonging to a citizen who filed an internal affairs complaint against them, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 31, and former SLEO-2 Thomas Dowling, 27, both of Asbury Park entered guilty pleas virtually today to fourth-degree Criminal Mischief before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr., in connection to the vandalism of two vehicles, one in Ocean Grove and one in Asbury Park, between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on September 3, 2019. Dowling and Martinsen admitted during their pleas that they slashed the tires of the vehicles and smashed a window of one of the vehicles, causing over $500 in total damage. They further admitted that they vandalized the vehicles after the victim filed a complaint against them with the Asbury Park Police Department.
As part of the plea agreements, the defendants permanently forfeited any future public employment in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, the State agreed to recommend a probationary sentence conditioned upon restitution being made to the victim for damage to the motor vehicles. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020.
“Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option. This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason. All members of the law enforcement community must maintain the public’s trust by conducting themselves at the highest level of integrity and decency,” Gramiccioni said.
“The cooperative efforts of the Asbury Park Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility Unit is a clear example of how effective our current internal affairs policies are. These officers were held accountable for their actions and misconduct and we will continue to hold our officers responsible to build upon the trust of the community that we serve,” Asbury Park Police Chief David Kelso said.
Martinsen has been suspended without pay since this incident. Dowling was terminated when the initial charges were filed. Martinsen had been part of the department since 2013, starting as a Special Law Enforcement Officer, Class 1 in May 2013, becoming a SLEO-2 in May 2014 and then becoming a full-time member of the force since July 2017. Dowling had been a SLEO-2 since May 2015.
The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.