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Regina Tasca is a "rogue cop" – and God bless her for it.
Tasca is in the middle of disciplinary hearings that may result in her termination from the Bogota, New Jersey Police Department. She stands accused of "bizarre and outlandish" behavior in two incidents a year ago during which she revealed herself to be "A danger to other police officers."
Her first supposed offense – which wasn’t mentioned until after the second – was a failure to assist another officer who was "attacked" by a drunken woman who was roughly half his weight and barely five feet tall. Her second was was to intervene when a police officer from another jurisdiction viciously assaulted an emotionally troubled young man who was not suspected of a crime.
"I consider myself a peace officer," Tasca told Pro Libertate. "My thing is to help make sure that people are safe, and that they don't have a reason to fear the police – that we treat them like human beings. The incident that started all of this was one in which I intervened to prevent excessive force against a kid who was the subject of a medical call, not a criminal suspect.”
On April 29, 2011, Tasca was on patrol when she got a call for medical assistance. Former Bogota Council Member Tara Sharp, concerned about the erratic behavior of her 22-year-old son Kyle, called the police to take him to the hospital for a psychological evaluation. Requesting police intervention, particularly in cases of this kind, is never a good idea. Sharp was exceptionally fortunate that Officer Tasca was the first to respond: She has years of experience as an EMT and had just completed specialized training on situations involving psychologically disturbed people.
Once on the scene, Tasca acted quickly to calm down the distraught young man.
"When the call came, I heard that a couple of officers from Ridgefield Park were coming to provide backup, which I thought was OK, Tasca related to Pro Libertate. "Kyle had been shouting and swearing when I got there, but I got him calmed down." The young man's mood changed abruptly when he saw the other officers arrive.
"He noticed them and asked me, `Why is there another police officer here from another town?' Then he said that he was leaving, and he moved maybe two or three steps when one of the Ridgefield officers jumped him."
Sgt. Chris Thibault tackled Kyle, wrapped him in a bear hug, and attempted to handcuff him. Within an instant, Sgt. Joe Rella piled on and began to slug Kyle in the head while his horrified mother screamed at the officers to stop.
Tasca instinctively did what any legitimate peace officer would do: She intervened to protect the victim, pulling Rella off the helpless and battered young man. Eventually the Ridgefield officers handcuffed Kyle – then turned their fury on Tasca.
"One of them yelled at me, `We can't have this!'" she recalled. "I said, we `can't have' what? There was no reason to take that kid to the ground and start slugging him. This was a medical assistance call, and the mother was sitting their screaming at them to stop beating on their son. I didn't fail to aid another officer; I acted to stop a beatdown."