The Tenafly Police Department in New Jersey released an embarrassing encounter on Tuesday featuring a Port Authority commissioner, who was also co-chairwoman of the National Finance Council for pro-Clinton Super PAC “Ready for Hillary.” The video shows Caren Turner berating two police officers for pulling over a vehicle her daughter was traveling in on Easter weekend.
It was a protracted outburst that cost Turner her job.
In the video published by NJ.com, Turner more than mentions that she is a Port Authority commissioner. She demands to be referred to as “Commissioner” rather than “Miss,” for instance, and also showed off her badge.
You can watch the video of the encounter in full above.
The story goes that Turner’s daughter called her to the scene to pick her and her friends up because the adult male who was driving the car was pulled over. They also learned that the car was being impounded.
Turner arrived on the scene and police officers wondered why she was showing them ID.
“You’re just here as a ride, right?” one officer asked.
“No, I’m not. I’m here as a concerned citizen and friend of the mayor,” Turner replied. “I’ve been living in Tenafly for 20 years. I take full responsibility for them.”
Turner asked the officers repeatedly why the car was pulled over and each time they said talk to the driver, who is an adult and “has all of the information.”
Then the officer called her “Miss.” “Don’t call me ‘Miss,’ I’m ‘Commissioner.’ Thank you,” Turner shot back. The officer did respond by calling her “Commissioner.”
He informed her that the car was getting towed and that the situation didn’t involve her “one percent,” as her daughter was a passenger, the car did not belong to her and she was not being “summonsed.”
Turner made sure to mention that among the young adults pulled over were MIT and Yale students. The officers said she could take her daughter and friends, and go.
Here’s what she said next: “You may shut the fuck up and not tell me when I may take my kid and her friends who are PhD students from MIT and Yale.”
Needless to say, this did not go over well at Turner’s place of employment. Tenafly PD sent the video over, it was reviewed, Turner’s conduct was deemed “indefensible,” and her resignation was announced on Monday.
The Port Authority called the findings of the investigation “profoundly disturbing.”
“After Commissioner Turner became aware of the investigation, she resigned,” it said in a statement.
All of that because of the male driver with Nevada plates who was pulled over because part of his license plate was obscured. It was also determined that he had an expired registration.
Turner later said in a statement obtained by NJ.com that she regrets her “tone” and “off-color language,” while also saying that she wasn’t using her position to achieve special treatment:
Last month, my daughter and three of her friends were in a car that was pulled over by a Tenafly police officer for non-moving violations, including having tinted windows. The officers subsequently decided to impound the vehicle, leaving the four young adults on the side of a busy highway.
Concerned, I hurried to the scene to assist them. As a parent, I was upset and uncomfortable with the unfolding events. I let my emotions get the better of me and regret my tone toward the police officers and use of off-color language. For this, I apologize.
However, at no point did I violate the Port Authority’s Code of Ethics or ask for special treatment for anyone involved, nor did I suggest, in any way, that I would use my position at the Port Authority to affect the outcome of the violations issued to the driver. My resignation from the Port Authority is a recognition that this unfortunate incident could and should have been avoided.
As a long-time Tenafly resident, I have always taken an active role in the community, including working with law enforcement officials, and I encourage the Tenafly Police Department to review best practices with respect to tone and de-escalation, so that incidents like this do not recur.
Editor’s note: this post was updated after publication with Turner’s statement.
[screengrab via YouTube]