A New Jersey police officer has resigned after he was caught on camera saying he didn’t have to follow the Constitution because the president has decimated it. The video went viral, making national headlines.
As RT reported Thursday, Special Police Officer Richard Recine, a part-time employee of the Borough of Helmetta Police Department, was seen on video saying, "Obama has decimated the friggin' Constitution, so I don't give a damn. Because if he doesn't follow the Constitution we don't have to."
The statement was made in response to resident Steve Wronko, who was at the municipal building to serve an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request after being kicked out of the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter earlier in the week.
Recine was called to the municipal building because Wronko was taking pictures inside. When the cop approached him, Wronko said, “I’ve made objections about what’s going on at the shelter over there,” adding, “My First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated, my civil rights were violated.”
There is some back and forth over Wronko’s ability to take pictures in the public building.
“Under New Jersey law, with the alarming and all that… I’m in a public building recording, which is my First and Second Amendment rights…” Wronko said.
That’s when Recine replied that he didn’t give a damn about the Constitution because of Obama’s actions.
Wronko then asked the person recording ‒ his 13-year-old daughter Erin ‒ to make sure the conversation was being captured for posterity. Recine also asked, “Yeah, did you get that?”
He then repeated himself: “Because the president decimated our Constitution, then we don’t have to.”
After more back-and-forth between the two men, Police Director Robert “Bob” Manney approaches and asks Wronko to leave for being disruptive. “Either get out, or you’re going to get locked up,” Manney eventually said, opening the door and gesturing for another officer to escort Wronko out.
On Wednesday, after the video went viral online, Manney said Recine's words were "uncalled for and unprofessional," the Home News Tribune reported.
Borough Administrator Herbert C. Massa told NJ.com Wednesday that the police director has begun an internal investigation into the officer’s remarks, but that Recine remains on duty. “[Manney] is in the process of reviewing the video,” Massa said. “There will be an investigation and a determination will be made about what happened.”
But before the inquiry could get very far, Recine handed Manney and Massa his resignation, which the former officer told the Home News Tribune was a “mutual” decision.
"I don't want to give a black eye to law enforcement," Recine, 59, said Thursday in an interview with the Tribune’s parent website, MyCentralJersey.com. "People are saying some really nasty stuff about cops. I don't want all officers painted with the same brush."
The now-former officer retired from the police department of nearby Franklin in 2006 after 29 years on that force, and worked as a part-time officer in Helmetta since then, Massa told NJ.com. He earned $13.39 an hour in his part-time role, on top of a $79,000 annual pension from the neighboring town. Recine is also a registered Democrat who serves on the elected Board of Fire Commissioners of District 2 in Piscataway, NJ.
“He said he hereby resigns, immediately,” Massa said. “He is no longer on the police force.”
Manney told the Tribune on Thursday that 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," Manney said about Wronko. "They were worried because they've seen him before lurking around. In my opinion he was looking for an issue."
Recine agreed. "I tried to explain to him that since 9/11 you just can't walk into a place and take videos," he said. "All he kept on doing was saying he had civil rights, and the Constitution, and he didn't have to give me information. And I kind of like lost my temper."
He added that his remark was sarcastic.
"It was just a stupid statement on my part. He got me riled and I said it," he explained. "I don't believe that at all. I'm the most patriotic person in the world. I believe in God, the flag, country, the Constitution."
Recine admitted to WKXW’s Jim Gearhart Show on Friday that he has a penchant for cynicism and mockery.
“I have, for lack of a better word, a very sarcastic mouth at times,” he said. “And I let it get the better of me.”