Bergen public safety director accused of interfering with traffic stop to get friend out of DWI

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Darla Miles has details on the accusations against Bergen County's public safety director.

A top public safety official in New Jersey is accused of interfering with a police officer during a traffic stop that involved a suspected drunk driver.

DashCam video shows some of what happened, as the officer says Bergen County's Public Safety Director Ralph Rivera showed up at a stop in Hackensack and distracted him multiple times, claiming the driver was a friend.

The arresting officer wrote that he was overwhelmed when Rivera showed up in an unmarked county car and interrupted four separate times, repeating his law enforcement credentials.

Nearly 30 years as a New Jersey state trooper are part of the credentials that got Rivera the job, but it wasn't enough to get his friend out of the DWI around 3:30 a.m. on March 19.

According to a Bergen County police report, Fransciso Almonte was driving his wife's gray Jeep Cherokee when he was pulled over on Main Street in Hackensack for failing to use the turn signal twice. Shortly after, Rivera showed up.

"I told him that I would not be willing to put my pension on the line at any point tonight in regards to the arrest of Almonte and the motor vehicle stop," Officer Andrew Kara wrote in the police report. "I would not be making any exceptions and will treat this like any other arrest I have made in the past."

Rivera has been suspended with pay, and the Bergen County executive issued a statement reading, in part, "any additional action on behalf of the county will be determined following completion of the prosecutor's investigation."

Rivera and Almonte were not available for comment.
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