Talk about going off the rails: the head of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority’s ethics committee has resigned after a video surfaced of her swearing at police officers who had pulled over her daughter during a traffic stop.
Caren Turner, appointed to the board of the Port Authority last year, quit abruptly on April 20 once the Port Authority heard about the traffic stop, which happened in suburban New Jersey on March 31. The incident was first uncovered by Politico.com and then gained widespread media attention — as often happens when, ya know, you’re an ethics committee chairman caught on video cursing out local law enforcement.
According to published reports, two police officers in Tenafly, N.J., pulled over a Toyota Corolla that day because the car had darkly tinted windows and an unclear rear license plate. The officers then discovered that the vehicle had an expired registration and the driver an expired insurance card; those were grounds to impound the vehicle.
Turner’s daughter was one of the passengers. She called Turner, who drove over to the traffic stop and confronted the two officers, presumably to railroad them into letting her daughter and friends go.
As you can see in the 16-minute dashcam video released by Tenafly police, Turner was polite for, oh, the first 60 seconds or so. Then she brooms the kids away, tries to buffalo the police into believing she runs the Port Authority police force (spoiler alert: she doesn’t — er, didn’t), and when that doesn’t work, gets into the officers’ faces.
The f-bomb drops right around the eight minute mark, when Turner tells one of the officers — in a staccato, I’m-the-boss-here-tone —“You may not tell me when to take my child home. You may shut the f—k up.”
The rest of the video speaks for itself, albeit on a seven-second delay: Turner flashing her “badge” to the officers; Turner demanding they call her “commissioner” rather than “miss.” The whole conversation is a belligerent Turner talking down to the two police officers, who do an admirable job keeping their cool with someone who deserves a Code of Conduct stapled to her forehead.
Eventually the police did let the stopped car go, although Turner’s daughter caught a ride home with her mother. You gotta wonder how the rest of that Passover weekend went.
We could try to treat this incident seriously, with teachable moments and all the usual. We could note that the Port Authority previously was a disaster of ethical misconduct, with the former Port Authority chairman pleading guilty in 2016 to bribery charges for giving favorable treatment to United Airlines. The Port Authority just hired a new chief ethics and compliance officer, Deb Torres, at the start of 2018. Turner, as chair of the Port Authority board’s ethics committee, would have been Torres’ boss, I suppose.
Really, though, this is the tale of one mildly powerful person who let delusions of greater power go to her head, and then got her comeuppance for boorish behavior. The only true lessons here are the importance of humility, and letting your kids learn their own lessons the hard way once they turn 18.
As for Turner’s career in public service, I suspect that caught the midnight train going anywhere.