MORE CHAOS: Toms River Police Chief Suspended Amidst Fight With Mayor

Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little has been suspended for two days amidst ongoing tension between Mayor Daniel Rodrick and the police department over the mayor’s decision to eliminate two captains’ positions.

Neither Rodrick nor Little provided an explanation as to why the police chief was suspended.

The conflict between Rodrick and the police department began in January when the mayor proposed eliminating the two captains’ positions, along with other cuts, to hire emergency medical technicians. The police department pushed back, and the conflict escalated when Rodrick said he would cut the positions with or without council approval.

Recently, a recall petition was certified to force the council to repeal the ordinance or put it to a vote. Rodrick has maintained that he will not backfill the captains’ positions and has labeled the recall effort as politically motivated.

Additionally, the township was served with a notice of a lawsuit filed by Jillian Messina, the former public information officer for the police department, alleging retaliation in her firing. Messina had spoken out against the cuts and defended her work. She says she was fired because Rodrick hates her father – an assertion provided in a sworn affidavit by Chief Little who says Phil Stilton told him this. Stilton was hired by Rodrick to replace Messina before getting into a fight with him, too.

Rodrick has denied any wrongdoing and says that Messina’s position was unnecessary and cut as part of a reduction in the public relations budget.

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