TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Documents first obtained by CBS 2 showed 11 Port Authority police officers on duty at the George Washington Bridge during the lane closures last year had safety concerns, and lawmakers on Thursday wanted to know why the concerns were silenced.
Attorney Dan Bibb, who works for the union representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officers, relayed information from 11 officers, including three who said they were told about the traffic change by a lieutenant who ordered them not to move the traffic cones blocking the lanes.
Bibb reported one officer, Steve Pisciotta, reported that he “used a police radio to report that the severe traffic was creating hazardous conditions. He further requested that the cones come down and that Fort Lee lanes be reopened.”
But when he got a response on his police radio, Pisciotta was told to “shut up” by Deputy Inspector Darcy Licorish. Bibb said Pisciotta told him that Lt. Thomas “Chip” Michaels and a sergeant visited him “to tell him that his radio communication had been inappropriate.”
He was also instructed that “there could be no further discussion of lane closures on the air,” according to Bibb.
The legislative committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal wants to know if the radio transmission still exists.
“For him to be reprimanded means that that police department — those officers — are being used for an improper purpose,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who heads the committee. “That’s troubling, because nobody in the public should accept that.”
Gov. Chris Christie fired his aide, Bridget Kelly, over the scandal. His Port Authority appointee, David Wildstein, resigned.
Kelly, then a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, sent a message to Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Some Port Authority police officers said they saw Lt. Michaels driving Wildstein around the bridge on the first day of the closure.
Michaels’ attorney did not deny that claim, but said it was an order from a superior.
Some drivers on Thursday said it is time to move on.
“The whole thing was blown out of proportion,” said Robert Huntley of Millburn. “The people who did something wrong, I think, have been take care of.”
Christie has denied any involvement in the lane closures. He is traveling in Mexico this week, and his office has not returned calls seeking comment on the new documents.
The union representing Port Authority officers said its member will cooperate fully with investigators if they are subpoenaed to testify before the legislative committee.
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