Cummis’ leave extended in special meeting

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Township Committee held a special meeting Monday, Aug. 21, to address the status of Maplewood Police Capt. Joshua Cummis.

In the meeting, which lasted approximately 20 minutes, the committee unanimously passed Resolution No. 161-17, which extends Cummis’ administrative leave an extra month.

Following the release of records from the July 5, 2016, clash between Maplewood police and many teenagers, many of whom were black, the committee placed Cummis, who is heard on audio files telling other officers to push the youths to the Irvington border, on administrative leave. Originally, Cummis was placed on administrative leave through Aug. 31, with the understanding that he would retire at the end of August; however, Cummis has withdrawn his retirement papers. As such, the Maplewood Township Committee extended his administrative leave to Sept. 30, to ensure that he does not go back on duty in Maplewood.

Township attorney Roger Desiderio said he has been in touch with Cummis’ attorney, who waived the first reading of the resolution — meaning the committee was able to pass the resolution on only one reading instead of two. Desiderio told the committee members that he is working toward a resolution with Cummis’ attorney and that Cummis had withdrawn his retirement papers because he was unsure of the effect it would have on his retirement benefits.

Additionally, Police Chief Robert Cimino remains on administrative leave and has not resigned from his post, as the Township Committee asked him to do. Mayor Vic DeLuca recently told the News-Record that the township would continue to pursue the matter.

At the special meeting, the committee discussed the possibly precarious situation it is in regarding terminating Cummis’ employment with the Maplewood Police Department. To fire a police department employee, the township needs cause, yet the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigated the incident and reported in March that there was not enough evidence for further action.