Image by Pixabay

Former Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Chief Michael Coppola was in court this week on a six-count indictment that include:

  • Third-degree charges of cocaine possession
  • Cocaine distribution
  • MDMA possession
  • Attempted possession of a controlled dangerous substance
Former Palisades Parkway Police Chief, Michael Coppola. Image by Bergen County Prosecutors Office

Coppola of Totowa (age 43) was originally arrested in August of 2018 when they were alerted to a package with cocaine that had been sent to his PO box (not a smart move).  The police then swapped out the drugs with a fake substance and pulled him over after retrieving the package.

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This news is the latest black eye for the “rogue” Palisade Parkway Police department. In 2018, an 8 month review of the force by Bergen County DA found a laundry list of violations.  Those violations include:

  • Wrongly using a roadblock three times
  • Wrongly hitting a fleeing suspect’s car twice
  • Pursued suspects into oncoming traffic four times
  • And used more than two police cars to pursue a suspect seven times without a supervisor’s approval
  • Wrongly pursued suspects on a parallel road 10 times
  • Inappropriately using police cruisers to box in a suspect’s car twice

The report also found parkway police routinely used the Internet to lure small-time drug dealers onto Palisades Interstate Park property to arrest them. One situation even led to the death of Denian Melo, a 21 year old Bronx man who fell to his death as he fled police in summer of 2017.

In one case 11 cop cars were involved in a single pursuit, which reached speeds of more than 120 mph.  In another chase, an officer whipped through red lights at more than 100 mph in pursuit of a fleeing suspect, who then lost control of their car and struck two parked vehicles. The speed limit on the road was 25 mph.

The department also ran an illegal incentive program that awarded officers with favorable parking spots, newer police cars and a meal allowance of $200 for the officers writing the most tickets or making the most arrests each month.

The only good recent news on the Palisades is the raised speed limit.  On October 1st, 2018 the limit was raised from 50 mph to 55 mph.  Personally, I think it should be 60.

Do you think they will finally get their act together?