UPDATE: Port Authority Chief in Viral Cop Rant Issues Her First Statement on Controversy
A recently resigned Port Authority commissioner was captured on police dash cam ranting at two police officers on a New Jersey roadway, yelling at them, "You may shut the f--- up!" after they pulled over a car in which her daughter was a passenger over Easter weekend.
Caren Z. Turner abruptly resigned on Monday as the Port Authority said that it was investigating allegations that she'd violated the board's code of ethics.
A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement to News 4, "The Board takes its recently adopted Code of Ethics for Commissioners extremely seriously... Commissioner Turner’s resignation was appropriate given her outrageous conduct."
Turner could not be reached for comment Tuesday. No one answered the door at her listed home address.
Turner, a 60-year-old Democratic lobbyist who served as ethics chair of the Port Authority, had been called by her daughter on March 31 to pick up her and several friends on Route 9W after the car in which they were riding was impounded, according to a police report. When Turner arrives, video obtained by News 4 shows her introducing herself to the officers, saying, "I'm here as a concerned citizen and friend of the mayor."
She asks why they were pulled over, and an officer responds, "The driver has all the information, he'll tell you all you need to know," adding that she wasn't involved in the traffic stop.
"No, no, no. I'm involved. Trust me. I'm very involved," she said.
Turner shows them something -- later identified in a police report as a Port Authority gold badge -- and says, "I am the commissioner of the Port Authority, and I am heading up over 4,000 police officers, OK?"
"Let's hear -- why were they pulled over, first of all?" Turner says.
One of the officers responds, "Miss --"
Turner interrupts him, "No, no, no, don't call me 'Miss.' I'm 'Commissioner.' Thank you."
The officer reiterates that she can ask the driver of the vehicle herself why the car was pulled over. Turner does not relent, however, and presses him: "I just want to know why."
The officer tells her, "I just don't appreciate your demeanor. You're being very demanding with me," the officer says.
The tense exchange continues for several minutes.
"There's a problem with you describing it because you don't feel confident why these people are being pulled over," Turner says.
The officer responds, "Your daughter is not being summoned. She was not the driver, it's not her vehicle, it's not your vehicle. How are you involved?"
Turner vows to meet with the Tenafly police commissioner over the traffic stop, and then tells the officer, "I hope you have a really nice holiday weekend, because you just ruined it for a lot of people."
As she continues to complain, the officer suggests they move the conversation to another location because they were on a high-speed road. Turner says sarcastically, "I'm so sorry, thank you for your concern for my safety. I don't need it. You can't put a sentence together, sorry. That's pathetic. You are a disappointment."
Then she turns to the other officer, "And you are just following him. So you are also a disappointment."
When the first officer tells Turner that she "may" now escort the group away, she responds, "You may not tell me when to take my child. You may shut the f--- up and not tell me when I may take my kid and her friends, who are Ph.D. students from M.I.T. and Yale. You may tell me nothing, because you told me nothing. Shame on both of you."
Later, out of sight of the camera, after the car is impounded by a police-contracted towing operator, she tells the officer: "I hope you're happy because you seem to have a smug-ass look on your face and it seems to please you."
The officer says, "You work with police officers, correct?"
She responds, "Yeah, I work with 4,000 of them."
He says, "I'm just a little disappointed that --"
She interrupts, "You don't get to be disappointed in me."
But the officer continues, "You don't seem like a very big police supporter, I don't know. It seems like you would have more of an inside look at the job... it just caught me by surprise, your demeanor a little bit, using inappropriate words and such."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," Turner says. "You know what, Matt? This isn't going to go down like this."
She later says, "The police have all been in my home, and in my second home, and in my third home in Tenafly."
Tenafly Police Chief Robert Chamberlain told NJ.com he would let the video speak for itself. He had sent a copy of the video to the Port Authority Inspector General, along with the incident report by the officers.
He added in a statement to News 4 Wednesday that he was "extremely proud of the composure, poise and restraint" the two officers showed in the video. He also thanked the Port Authority "for their professionalism and prompt attention to the matter."
The officer said in the report that he told her he was under no legal obligation to fill her in on what happened because all the occupants in the car were adults. Turner "became further enraged and began using profanity," the report said.
The traffic stop stemmed from side tinted windows -- which are not legal in New Jersey -- and a partially obscured license plate. Police called a tow truck to impound the car and issued several summonses to the driver.
Dash cam video from that portion of the traffic stop shows the driver and the police officer speaking calmly. The car is owned by the parents of the driver's girlfriend, who was also in the car, and the officer explains to the driver that the car has been unregistered for two years: "We can't have an unregistered car that's operating on the street."
The officer says the car has to be impounded, and the driver nods and responds agreeably through the conversation, even prompting the officer to tell him, "You seem like a really nice guy, I don't mean to be doing this to you, putting you in this spot. I genuinely believe you had no idea, 100 percent."
The Port Authority oversees airports, bridges, tunnels and rail facilities across the region. It also owns and manages the World Trade Center site.
Turner was appointed to the Port Authority last year by then-Gov. Chris Christie, and has served on finance committees for Hillary Clinton and Gov. Jon Corzine, NJ.com reports.