Member of Berlin Borough Police Department under investigation

Mayor James Bilella addressed public concern at this month’s council meeting

Mayor James Bilella made a statement at the beginning of Berlin Borough’s Council meeting regarding the public’s potential interest in an alleged incident.

Sources indicate the incident involves Police Chief Mike Miller. The incident had been circulating around social media.

According to Bilella, the borough immediately took action once being notified of the matter last week.

“I understand some of you may be here relative to an alleged reported incident involving a member of Berlin Borough Police Department that has been the subject of much discussion on social media,” said Bilella. “From the moment we were made aware of certain allegations last week, we immediately contacted appropriate legal authorities as required by the attorney general. We expect these legal authorities to focus on the facts and thoroughly perform their duties. Thereafter, the borough will strictly follow the procedures set forth by the attorney general guidelines, as it relates to internal affairs cases.”

Bilella also stated that, due to the nature of the matter, the council would proceed confidentially without making additional comments, other then to assure the public the allegations made against the individual are being taken seriously by the council and action would be taken if determined necessary.

Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Wayne Bonfiglio asked three questions to the council during public comment, inquiring as to the nature of the investigation, what law enforcement agency is conducting the investigation, and asking about potential past allegations involving other officers with the borough in the past year. Solicitor Howard Long said he was unable to answer the three questions due to attorney general guidelines.

After going into executive session, Long introduced a resolution “authorizing the execution of an agreement by and between Raymond Hayducka and the borough of Berlin to perform certain independent administrative investigative services in a matter consistent with the New Jersey Attorney General guidelines on Internal Affairs.”

The resolution passed unanimously by the council.

Miller could not be reached for comment last week.

In other news:

Also passed at the meeting was the second reading of an ordinance creating a business advisory committee. This is set to replace the municipality’s economic development committee.

“For many years, the economic development committee has kind of floundered,” Bilella said during his council report on economic development and real estate. “They don’t have the ability to make decisions that fundamentally reside with this body or the planning board, in terms of where businesses can go and what kind of economic advantages the borough can offer a business or property owner.”

The new committee will be comprised of business owners or leaders in the community to help council understand what businesses need to make Berlin as business-friendly as possible. It is expected the committee will advise council regarding ordinances, regulations and procedures, according to Bilella, creating a change in focus compared to the committee that was previously in its place.

The committee will be made up of five individuals, four of whom must be an executive in a company. These committee members do not need to be Berlin residents. The final spot on the committee is for a general citizen to help provide a different perspective.

· Police officer Robert J. Dugan was promoted to the position of patrolman. Dugan will be recognized at the September meeting.

· The third quarter tax payment grace period was extended to Aug. 20.

· The purchase of a 2019 Ford F350 4WD pickup to be used by the fire department under state contract was passed. The purchase is not to exceed $56,000.