FREEHOLD – Two Asbury Park police officers are facing multiple charges relating to two separate vandalism incidents, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 29, of Asbury Park, and Asbury Park Police Special Law Enforcement Officer, Class 2, Thomas Dowling, 26, of Asbury Park, are charged with two counts each of third degree Conspiracy, two counts each of third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Knife), two counts each of fourth degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Knife), two counts each of fourth degree Criminal Mischief. Martinsen has been part of the department since 2013, starting as a Special Law Enforcement Officer, Class 1 in May of 2013, becoming a Class 2 in May of 2014 and then becoming a full-time member of the force since July of 2017. Dowling has been a Class 2 officer since May of 2015.
The charges stem from two separate incidents of vandalism to two vehicles, one vehicle in Ocean Grove and one in Asbury Park between approximately 3-4 a.m. on or about Tuesday, September 3, 2019. It is alleged that Officer Martinsen and Special Law Enforcement Officer Dowling did purposely damage both vehicles, both owned by the same person. The vehicle owner had filed an administrative complaint against both officers several days before the vandalism incidents.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their duties with integrity and honor. However, when a police officer takes advantage of the very citizens they are sworn to protect, it erodes public confidence and violates the public’s trust. Such behavior will never be acceptable or tolerated. If these charges prove to be true, this is the quintessential definition of a breach of trust between law enforcement and the public,” said Prosecutor Gramiccioni.
As a result of these charges, Martinsen has been suspended without pay and Dowling’s employment with the city of Asbury Park has been terminated.
“The Asbury Park Police Department would like to thank the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office for their professionalism and swift action regarding the matter surrounding these two officers. Their behavior is not acceptable and does not represent the level of professionalism, community focus or resident safety that we expect of our officers. We will not let the actions of these officers overshadow the great work and dedication by the men and women of this department,” said Asbury Park Police Chief David Kelso.
If convicted of third degree charges, Martinsen and Dowling face up to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison. If convicted of fourth degree charges, Martinsen and Dowling face 72 months in prison.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.