North Bergen police officer fights 'unfit for duty' decision

NORTH BERGEN - A Kane In Your Corner investigation is probing whether a North Bergen police officer was fired over false allegations.

Benjamin Ortega says that he never disobeyed an order in his 13 years as a North Bergen officer. He says that a dispute over the disposal of a street sign prompted a heated, mostly one sided exchange that led to his termination. After fellow officers called him "disrespectful" and "insubordinate," he was sent for a psych exam where he was found "unfit for duty."

Ortega believes that he was terminated because he was in line for a promotion and the department wanted to promote someone else.

Ortega's attorney says that the former officer was not once reprimanded in his career and an independent exam found him fit for duty. The state's medical review board agreed. They ruled unanimously that Ortega was not mentally unfit and that he should be put back on the promotion list.

A spokesman for the North Bergen Police Department defended the decision to fire Ortega stating that his psych evaluation gave them no choice in the matter.

An administrative law judge will rule on Ortega's termination next month. Ortega says he would like to rejoin the force.

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