Trenton Police Capt. Paul “Sleepy” Messina may have committed his last gaffe on Wednesday, when the embattled leader of the Trenton Police Academy apparently blocked off traffic on Perry Street while berating a patrolman near the Route 1 interchange.
The scene was one of mayhem, with the out-of-uniform captain having created a dangerous rush hour public safety situation after having blocked off four lanes of traffic with his unmarked sedan, while unleashing an expletive-laced tirade on an unsuspecting officer named Vincent Mistretta.
The captain was apparently nit-picking the officer on what was perceived as improper directing of traffic, but the lower-ranking officer explained in an Internal Affairs complaint that he had been out of proper position due to the fact that he was assisting some pedestrians in crossing the traffic-clogged street.
As has been well-documented in the local media, Capt. Messina has repeatedly avoided real punishment for numerous transgressions, including falling asleep on duty and sexual harassment, because of a cozy relationship with outgoing Police Director Joseph Santiago.
That type of unaccountable leadership and unpunished behavior, while humorous to watch, has led directly to this kind of situation, where public safety became compromised due to the uneven and unfair leadership of the Trenton Police Department.
Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, in defending the director from those seeking his ouster for violating the city’s residency ordinance, constantly harped on Mr. Santiago’s superior leadership skills, in lamenting that Mr. Santiago’s removal would leave the department “rudderless”.
If you ask me, if these are the kind of goons that prosper under Mr. Santiago’s allegedly superior watch, then this city and its police department are probably much better being left rudderless, rather than whatever state it is in at present.
Mayor Palmer also bears some responsibility in this manner, having blessed Mr. Santiago’s leadership decisions regarding Capt. Messina’s previous questionable behavior.