New Jersey Police Leave Teens Locked in Van For 14 Hours Without Heat or Water

Police in Fort Lee, New Jersey are accused of locking a van of teens in a police van without heat or water for 14 hours. The teens were rounded up at high school house party over the weekend and apparently forgotten until a passerby heard the teens screaming.

The police raid the party at 1;30 am after noise complaints from neighbors. They were left in temperatures in the twenties without access to a bathroom. They had to go to the bathroom in the crowded van.

There is obviously ample grounds for a torts lawsuit for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. False imprisonment could be a problem for lack of intent, though some courts might allow substantial certainty as a substitute. However, false imprisonment is rare against police officers who are more appropriately subject to false or unlawful arrest claims. Here the police would argue a valid basis for arrest while acknowledging negligence in the aftermath of the arrest.

Source: NBC

20 thoughts on “New Jersey Police Leave Teens Locked in Van For 14 Hours Without Heat or Water”

  1. Anonymously Yours 1, March 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Probably Brian, they will be charged with Public indecency and then be required to register on the sex offender registry……
    …except it’s not really funny…

  2. Three Fort Lee Police Officers Suspended After Leaving Teens Locked In Police Van For Hours

    Mayor calls situation a “mistake beyond words,” and says an exhaustive investigation is underway.

    By Erik Wander | Email the author | March 29, 2011

    Three Fort Lee Police Officers have been suspended after an incident Saturday in which police left five teenagers locked in a police van after breaking up a house party, Mayor Mark Sokolich said.

    The five minors were left “forgotten” in the van outside police headquarters in freezing temperatures for more than 14 hours, according to a report by NBC New York. NBC reported that police broke up the party in response to complaints of noise from neighbors at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and that officers became aware of the error when a passing officer heard screams and banging coming from the van.

    “Words can’t describe my feelings about this, except to tell you this is a mistake beyond words,” Sokolich said. “And we’re going to deal with it.”

    Sokolich said he could not confirm the NBC report, and would not provide the address of the house where the party took place nor the amount of time the teens were locked in the van.

    Sokolich did, however, confirm that the number of teens locked in the van was five.

    He said there were “many” kids at the party, which he described as “raucous.”

    “I’m told that there was underage drinking,” Sokolich said. “I’m told that there was [other controlled substances] visible to the officers. It wasn’t a good party. I’m told that there was a lack of adult supervision.”

    According to interviews with the mothers of high school students who were not at the party, most of the teens who were there were 17 or 18 years old. They said the parents who lived at the residence, on Arcadian Way, were out of town.

    Andy, one of the five students held in the van, told the Bergen Record in an e-mail that about half of the group of minors in the van were taken into the police station. But the five teens were left in the van, “with no food, or water [with] 20-degree weather, for nearly 14-15 hours,” Kim wrote, according to the Record. “The police forgot about us.”

    Mayor Sokolich said he’s called for “sweeping, sweeping investigations.”

    “[The investigations] are going to be conducted swiftly. They’re going to be intense. They’re going to be complete,” Sokolich said. “And I can assure you that at the conclusion of this investigation action will be taken, and we’ll make sure that this will never, ever occur here in Fort Lee.”

    Sokolich said the three officers, whose names he would not provide, citing the ongoing investigation, were suspended with pay “because we’ve not conducted a hearing yet.”

    “But we’re in the process of conducting interviews [and] obtaining statements,” Sokolich said. “We’re in touch with all the appropriate agencies.”

    He also said he’s meeting with a group of parents and community leaders Tuesday “just to give them an update.”

    “This is an ongoing investigation, and it involves minors, so as a consequence, to a certain extent I’m constrained on what I can say publicly,” Sokolich said. “But I can assure you that I am dealing with this on virtually a minute-by-minute basis with constant updates, and we’ve got to deal with it.”

    Police Chief Thomas Ripoli declined comment on the incident.

  3. if they’d left some dogs in a van for 14 hours i wouldn’t have just heard about this on a blog.

  4. Stacey,

    The police spokesman, I think at this time it was the Chief, said something went horribly wrong and thus far three officers are on paid suspension while the investigation is on-going.

    I believe he’s meeting with the parents and other community folk today.

    Five kids in a police van in the police lot for 14 hours through all the shift changes … the remarks on this blog were relatively mild.

    The cops are damn lucky one or more of those kids weren’t diabetic or needing heart meds.

  5. RE: rafflaw, March 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    We have the fact that teens were left in a locked van for 14hours. Is there any reasonable explanation for that kind of police work?


    I seem to have accumulated a history of being as-though squashed like a dead bug for suggesting that “Heisenberg Indeterminacy” contributes to iffy decisions because, though neurochemicals meander slowly, the timing structure of a sequence of post-synaptic membrane depolarizations and resulting neuronal action potentials has just iffy enough that no human brain decision is perfectly predictable, yet decisions are often predictable enough that decisions seem rather predictable most of the time.

    If you disagree, fine with me.

    Sometimes, alas, it is to me as though even the best of people “totally lose it.”

    This may touch upon the forbidden topics of freedom, free will, determinism, choice, pre-destination, and other toxic notions; and, good grief, (Please!) let’s not go there!

  6. Stacey,
    We have the fact that teens were left in a locked van for 14hours. Is there any reasonable explanation for that kind of police work?

  7. What I am saying is WE (the public) DO NOT KNOW ALL THE FACTS. In time we will see what will come out. And only then can we judge fairly. Point being, we only have one side of a two sided incident.

  8. Stacey,
    I think it is reasonable to bash a police force who allows kids to be locked in a van for 14 hours! Just how do you forget who you arrested?

  9. We should keep an open mind and not jump on to the bandwagon of police bashing so soon. When I read remarks like the Fort Lee Police were probably doing nothing at the time of the incident, out eating donuts, or went fishing etc. it puts our officers in a bad light and takes away the respect of our citizens. Fort Lee is home to over 35,000 people so to assume the Fort Lee Police Department is a bunch of slackers is just an unfair blanket to put over the entire force. When only a small group of individuals should be held accountable for this incident.

  10. They loaded up these kids sometime after 1:30am … left them in the van in the lot of the police station … 14 hours later (which would be sometime after 3:30pm the following day), a cop walking by the lot heard screaming and went to investigate.

    Were the cops into the third shift change when the kids were found? How many of the kids’ parents had contacted the police about a missing child? So many questions …

  11. Probably Brian, they will be charged with Public indecency and then be required to register on the sex offender registry……

  12. Will the local prosecutor will file charges against the teens for damaging police property?

  13. Sounds like a slave ship. This is a screwed up society. So much for civilization.

  14. “apparently forgotten”

    How the hell can you “forget” 14 kids locked up in a van?? Oh, the cops must have been in a sugar stupor … all those donuts, donchano …

  15. Fort Lee is not a hotbed of activity town,so for this to happen there is really surprising.

  16. 14 hours of donut eating is a lot of damn donuts, AY.

    Then again . . . they are cops.

  17. WTF…..

    Maybe they went to the bait shop and got some coffee….after all doughnuts are made fresh in the morning….

  18. More likely they will be charged with vandalism and attempting to escape custody.

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