LONG BRANCH - Five Long Branch police officers were suspended after sleeping in their cruisers when they were supposed to be patrolling city streets at night, according to the mayor.
The five officers are losing up to 45 days without pay and cannot work outside the department for set periods of time.
"It's embarrassing,” says Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider. “It's embarrassing for everybody when something like this happens. You know, some of the guys came in and they've never been in trouble before and they're horrified at what they did."
Mayor Schneider says an anonymous letter sent to him and other city officials prompted an internal affairs investigation that discovered five Long Branch police officers were regularly pulling into a firehouse parking lot on Union Avenue during their night shift and sleeping in their patrol cars. One officer even disarmed his GPS to avoid getting busted.
The mayor says it went on for at least a month, with the naps usually lasting two to three hours at a time.
"It's one thing you're really exhausted and you pull over for five minutes … you do it repeatedly there's no excuse," says Schneider.
The mayor says some of the officers were tired from working second and third jobs.
Three additional officers who were supervising the shifts have also been disciplined for allowing it to happen by failing to act.
The mayor says all but one of the officers has accepted his punishment and does not plan to fight it.
He says the department also plans to rotate shifts going forward to avoid similar issues.