Find Something To Charge Them With

Trenton firefighters union president Wayne Wolk has accused Fire Director Qareeb Bashir of demanding that a deputy chief “find something” to charge two fire officers with in the aftermath of a bizarre retaliation suit.

According to NJ.com, that officer, Deputy Chief Robert Tharp, has opted to resign rather than carry out the Director’s order.

The latest headlines follow a jury verdict in favor of former firefighter Jesse Diaz, who claims he was retaliated by Director Bashir, Deputy Chief Leonard Carmichael and Captain Jim Hall after he complaint about a white firefighter using the N-word. What makes Diaz’s allegations hard to fathom is the fact that Director Bashir and Chief Carmichael are African American.

Nevertheless, in September a jury concluded that Chief Carmichael and Captain Hall did in fact retaliate against Diaz over the complaint. The jury did not find enough evidence to find Director Bashir responsible.

According to president Wolk, Director Bashir ordered Chief Tharp to investigate Chief Carmichael and Captain Hall, which he dutifully did. When the investigation concluded they did nothing wrong, Director Bashir directed Chief Tharp to charge them anyway and find something to charge them with.

Chief Tharp opted to retire. NJ.com quoted president Wolk as saying “He’s the type of guy who will do the right thing, no matter what side it falls on” and “Tharp is that stand-up guy.”

Here is more on the story.

11/10/16 UPDATE: Councilman calls for Director Bashir to be removed, as Trenton bids farewell to Chief Thorpe and soon Chief Carmichael. According to Trenton Councilman George Muschal:

  • “They’re losing a great man over politics.”
  • “This is all about politics and it’s just a shame that the mayor can’t see through this to stop this. … You’ll be losing these two great guys in here and the problem still exists.”
  • “We’re losing great manpower over this and when is it going to stop?”
  • “You can’t reach in a bag and say we’re going to pull another Bob Tharp or Lenny Carmichael. These guys are gone with the knowledge they have. They’re never coming back.”

Incidentally, back in 2014 Mushal served as interim Mayor, and promptly fired Director Bashir. He then appointed Chief Carmichael to replace him. A lawsuit ensured and Director Bashir was reinstated.

Here is more.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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