In a response to an InsiderNJ request for comment on his use of Linden Police vehicles, Mayor Derek Armstead said he did, in fact, call a Linden Police Officer to pick him up and drop him off from a city event referenced by a councilwoman – and made no apology for that, while instead taking time to apologize to himself – and others in city government – for having to spend time on what he cited as a frivolous matter.
The Mayor brought in the city attorney, and then the police chief.
“Mayor Armstead is head of our Police Department,” said City Attorney Daniel Antonelli. “I have opined on this issue, and it bears repeating, the Mayor is Head of the Police Deparment. In this regard, he may utilize a city issued vehicle, or have a uniformed officer guard him 24 hours, seven days a week. So it is not a rumor that the Mayor utilizes a police escort, it is a fact.”
Armstead struck back at Councilwoman Gretchen Hickey, saying she needs to familiarize herself with city policies and procedures.
The Police Chief backed him up.
“The request by the Mayor at no time jeopardized the safety of our residents or officers,” said Police Chief Hart. “Mayor Armstead during his term as Mayor has been a big supporter of the police department by not only seeing that our compliment is increased, but he has also supported increased training programs and purchase of equipment to help make Linden a safe place to live and work.”
Armstead put an exclamation point on the issue.
“I apologize to Chief Hart, Attorney Antonelli, Linden residents and myself for having to take time out of their lives to continuously address these rumors and vacuous accusations made by various council members and others,” he said.