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West New York Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez. New Jersey Globe Photo.

Rodriguez calls Roque attack a distraction

By Nikita Biryukov, May 05 2019 4:05 pm

West New York Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez called an attack leveled Saturday by Mayor Felix Roque a distraction, claiming the commissioner used the city’s police department for political purposes a distraction.

“Mayor Roque’s accusations are totally irresponsible and reckless and appear to be yet another case of him inserting himself into a situation just to grab headlines and make political attacks,” Rodriguez said Sunday. “The most important thing we can do as a community is let the investigation take its course and not fall for Mayor Roque’s continued attempts to distract us from his record of failure.”

Roque claimed Rodriguez directed West New York police officers to harry Roque supporters.

He said a store owner was arrested for playing music and distributing campaign materials at his place of business and claimed police threatened to arrest Roque campaign staffers for handing out materials on a previous occasion.

Police Director Robert Antolos said officers were responding to a noise complaint at the store incident.

“The officers met the owner and advised we had a complaint about the loud music. The owner was asked politely to lower the music a few times and he refused. They informed him he was going to be issued a violation and asked for identification which he refused to provide,” Antolos said. “The officers at this point deemed him to be uncooperative and proceeded to place him under arrest. The subject then resisted the officers in effecting the arrest.”

Antolos said police later found the store owner had an active arrest warrant. He was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction with the administration of law and on the outstanding traffic warrant.

“I have forwarded this incident to internal affairs for review. I support all our police officers and the difficult  job they perform on a daily basis,” Antolos said.

Rodriguez oversees the West New York’s police force. There is no evidence Rodriguez directed the police officers.

The commissioner is mounting a county-backed bid for Roque’s seat. The election day is May 14.

“As Public Safety Commissioner, my role is to supervise the policies and personnel decisions of the West New York Police Department, not direct its day-to-day operations. I had no knowledge of this incident until after it was posted online, and I want to assure the community that this investigation will proceed without political interference.”

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