EDITOR'S NOTE: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive.
HELMETTA – A borough police officer was caught on camera telling a resident that police don't have to follow the Constitution because President Barack Obama doesn't, either.
Special Police Officer Richard Recine now is the subject of an internal affairs investigation after the video was posted online and was seen by Police Director Robert Manney, who called the comments an "embarrassment."
In the video, taken Monday at the borough municipal building, resident Steve Wronko gets into a verbal confrontation with Recine, who was called to the building because Wronko was seen taking pictures inside.
After Wronko insists he has a constitutional right to record in a public place, Recine responds.
"Obama has decimated the friggin' constitution, so I don't give a damn," says Recine, a retired Franklin cop. "Because if he doesn't follow the Constitution we don't have to."
Wronko then turns to the person recording the camera to make sure that was recorded. Recine repeats himself.
"Our president has decimated the constitution, then we don't have to."
On Wednesday, Manney said Recine's words were "uncalled for and unprofessional."
Manney, who appears in the video but only after Recine had made his comments, said the investigation should be "completed very swiftly" because "the evidence is right there."
"I've already spoken to that officer in regards to that. In my opinion it's an embarrassment."
Recine works as a part-time special police officer earning an hourly wage while collecting a $79,000 annual pension for his retirement as a police officer from Franklin in 2006. Helmetta is a small town of less than 2,200 people known for its police speed trap along the main drag.
Wronko's wife said Wednesday that she and her husband were at the municipal building to file public record requests. The couple have been campaigning for reform at the borough animal shelter, which they said gave them an underage and sick puppy that caused them thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.
"We wanted them to pay for the medical bills. Now it's way past the money," Collene Freda-Wronko said. "Now it's about getting animals out of that shelter and getting people into that shelter who could run that facility better."
She said police have ordered her husband to stop videorecording at the animal shelter during two previous incidents.
Manney said police have the right to ask citizens to identify themselves in a municipal building.
"He was in our building and he got some of our employees upset," he said about Wronko. "They were worried because they've seen him before lurking around. In my opinion he was looking for an issue."
Staff Writer Sergio Bichao: 908-243-6615; email@example.com