Suspended police chief accused of buying cocaine online

Posted: Updated:
ALPINE -

Authorities say a suspended police chief in New Jersey has been buying cocaine online.

Prosecutors say Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Chief Michael Coppola, 43, went to a post office box to retrieve the order on Thursday. However, detectives had placed a package containing imitation cocaine in the box. Coppola was arrested during a motor vehicle stop in Ridgefield Park.

Coppola was suspended in July after the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office issued a report finding suspected violations of state laws and police guidelines within the department.

New Jersey Assemblyman Gordon Johnson says that he has plans to clean up the police department in the wake of the controversy surrounding Coppola. Johnson says that the department has been the subject of years of complaints of aggressive behavior. He says he is introducing legislation to give the department new leadership.

“The officers would probably welcome it,” says Johnson. “I think when you have a strong leader, a strong chief who’s fair, the officers appreciate that.”

The Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department has been monitored by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office since last year. The office found that officers with the department engaged in dangerous pursuits needlessly. Coppola is also said to have run incentive programs for officers to write tickets and make arrests.

The department patrols Palisades Interstate Park and the corresponding 11-mile stretch of the highway. Johnson says that the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department could be put in charge.

“It may be more efficient to turn this over to the Bergen County Sheriff Department. I’ve spoken with the Bergen County sheriff. He’s willing to do it,” Johnson says.

Coppola is charged with attempting to possess cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He's scheduled to make a court appearance on Aug. 22.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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