The other day I wrote about some allegations that a Tik Tok user who goes by the handle of EvoJoe made about the Toms River, N.J. police. According to Joe – whose last name I’ll be withholding until I have full permission to use it – he was pulled over in his development for driving 46 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. Since the publication of my last coverage on this story, I spoke with both Joe and did make contact with the Toms River Police Department. The Chief of Police of Toms River, Mitchell A. Little, did take some responsibility for the lack of knowledge on his officers’ parts.
As previously reported, Joe made allegations – which have now been confirmed to be true according to the Toms River Police Department in part – that when he was pulled over he was told his mode of carry was illegal. Joe is one of the citizens in New Jersey that has decided to exercise his constitutional right to bear an arm and got a permit to carry. When pulled over by Officer Weg, Joe presented his New Jersey permit to carry and informed officer Weg that he was bearing an arm and where it was located on his body. In short, Officer Weg told Joe that he’s supposed to have his firearm unloaded and in a case when in the car.
The law in New Jersey, at this time – and this is not legal advice – allows New Jersey permit to carry holders to keep their firearm loaded on themselves when in their car. The law saying this is not allowed has been preliminarily enjoined and was not subject to a stay at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. None of this information apparently made it to Officer Weg, or his supervisor, the desk Sergeant advising him at the time of Joe getting pulled over.
I reached out to the Toms River Police Department about being placed on hold waiting on dispatch for over an hour, as well as seeking comment on Joe’s story. When I initially called them I was placed on hold for over an hour before I hung up. They got back to me today.
As for the ungodly delay of over an hour before I hung up, they cannot locate my call. Whatever tracking system the department uses, they can’t find a record of me calling, to which I supplied screenshots indicating I did in fact make the calls on August 21st and showed the length of the calls. The call started at 15:04 CST and lasted 1 hr 3 mins and 51 seconds.
Some of the information about Joe’s stop was corroborated by Chief Little. In my correspondence with the Toms River Police Department, I received a statement from the chief:
The subject in question was issued a summons for 46 MPH in a 35 MPH zone which was the officer’s probable cause for the stop. That case will be heard and adjudicated in the Toms River Municipal Court. As far as the interaction regarding the NJ Firearms Law, we did not supply current information to the driver at the time, but it has since been corrected. As a police department we will be more prudent with the release of information and up-to-date directives with our officers.
There we have it, the chief of police has corroborated a bit of Joe’s story. And many thanks to the Media Relations representative of the Toms River Police. She has been awesome in her correspondence with me and I do appreciate her efforts.
As for Joe, he and I had a nice little chat and discussed his situation. One of the things he noted in his video and he repeated to me again, that he had a radar detector. There’s no way that he was clocked speeding, as he was going 35 miles per hour, and he did not detect a radar. Something else he shared with me is that he was told by an officer that they were at the time in a “speeding grant,” and that officers would get paid an extra $75.00 per hour or so to write speeding tickets.
I have since opened an Open Public Records Request, New Jersey’s equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request. I’m seeking the bodycam and dashcam videos and audio from officer Weg and the other responding officer(s), ten minutes prior to Joe getting pulled over and through the encounter. According to Joe, Officer Weg responded to the scene as did two other officers. Only one other officer got out of their car. According to my request, the OPRA office said that, “We have reviewed your request and 2 police officers were present on scene with a total of 4 videos consisting of 51 minutes of video.” Soon enough we should all have answers to how it all went down and if Weg admitted to giving Joe a ticket in lieu of arresting him for what he thought was unlawful carry.
I’m going to continue to follow Joe’s story closely, especially now that we’re in contact. This story should be a wakeup call to both the police in New Jersey and permit to carry holders. To the police, the default feeling that when they see a gun or hear about a gun, an arrest should happen needs to go out the window. There are permit to carry holders out there that are lawfully carrying. Don’t be an officer Weg. To my fellow permit to carry holders, remember not all police officers know what they’re talking about. If anything, this encounter is exactly why a duty to inform law should not be on the books. The Officer Wegs out there just don’t always get it right, and then they ticket you anyhow. I have a feeling Joe will get out of this one.