Las Vegas POA

Municipal Convictions Disqualify Applicant From Police Job

Written on 04/03/2020
Will Aitchison

Ramon Camilo applied for employment as a police officer in Jersey City and was ranked on the list of eligible candidates. At the request of the City, the Civil Service Commission removed Camilo’s name from the list based on past incidents detailed in a background investigation report.

The background report cited the fact that in 2007, Camilo did not appear in court to answer charges for failing to exhibit documents to a police officer and he was arrested pursuant to the warrant that was issued when he did not appear. He was eventually convicted of that offense. His driving record further showed that he was involved in three separate motor vehicle accidents occurring in 2005, 2007, and 2013. His driver’s license was suspended from July to August 2007.

In 2010, a court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Camilo pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act based on three separate police reports alleging harassment and terroristic threats. The court eventually vacated the TRO and did not issue a final restraining order. In May 2012, Camilo was convicted and fined for urinating in public.

The Commission considered, and ultimately rejected, Camilo’s arguments that attempted to explain and mitigate the negative incidents in his history. Camilo argued that these incidents were youthful indiscretions, and he learned from these mistakes and has since matured. He argued that he had paid his debt to society for his municipal court convictions, which were resolved by paying fines. He noted that the Court vacated the TRO and that his driving privileges were restored and were currently in good standing. He also argued that his service as an EMT showed that he could safely operate an emergency vehicle.

A New Jersey appeals court upheld the Commission’s decision to remove Camilo’s name from the eligibility list. The Court concluded its opinion with a bit of a suggestion that the wrong result may have been reached, but that it was powerless to reverse the decision: “The Commission is authorized to remove an individual from an eligible list based on his or her background and its adverse relationship to the nature of the position. It must be recognized that police officers are a special kind of public employee. Their primary duty is to enforce and uphold the law. They carry a service revolver and are constantly called upon to exercise tact, restraint and good judgment in their relationship with the public. They represent law and order to the citizenry and must present an image of personal integrity and dependability in order to have the respect of the public.

“We are constrained by the governing principles of law to affirm a final agency decision even if we were to question that decision and might have reached a different result. We are precluded, in other words, from substituting our own judgment in place of the agency’s judgment. The record before us shows that the Commission duly considered the substantial credible evidence regarding Camilo’s past conduct with respect to his arrest and driving history. In doing so, the Commission also considered and responded to Camilo’s arguments. In these circumstances, Camilo has failed to show that the Commission’s decision is not supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record or otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.”

In re Ramon Camilo, 2019 WL 6320353 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2019).

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