Sometimes, dashcams and bodycams catch police in their worst behavior. But a video released on Tuesday shows police in Tenafly, New Jersey exercising remarkable restraint in the face of badgering by Caren Turner, a commissioner from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Turner, who was appointed to the position by former Governor Chris Christie, suddenly resigned last week.
“Commissioner Turner’s resignation was appropriate given her outrageous conduct,” a Port Authority official said in a statement to NJ.com.
Turner’s daughter was riding in a friend’s car on March 31 when police pulled the car over. Police decided to tow the vehicle after determining that the car’s Nevada registration had expired and the driver couldn’t produce proof of insurance. Turner was called to pick up the daughter and her friends, but when Turner arrived, she tried to intercede with the police officers. “I’m here as a concerned citizen and friend of the mayor,” Turner told the officers. “I take full responsibility for them.”
She demanded that police explain why they had pulled the car over. They refused, pointing out that she wasn’t involved in the traffic stop and referring her to the driver of the car for a full explanation. They continued to deflect her questions even after she showed them her Port Authority credentials. “I’m just telling you who I am,” Turner said later in the conversation.
“I’m very disappointed in the way the two of you are acting,” she fumed.
After more than six tense minutes, one of the officers encouraged the woman to move along to avoid obstructing traffic.
“You may take them now,” he said, referring to her daughter and friends.
“You may not tell me when to take my child,” she retorted. “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. I will be talking to the chief of police and I will be speaking to the mayor.”
In a world before dash cameras, this story could have turned out very differently. The police could have described Turner’s behavior to others, but they wouldn’t have been able to prove just how blatantly she attempted to abuse her authority. If she had chosen to misrepresent their behavior, they wouldn’t have had a way to rebut her allegations.
But thanks to the video, we know exactly how all parties behaved. We know that the police behaved with professionalism in the encounter, while Turner’s behavior left a lot to be desired.