The Chancellor Yells at the Campus Cops

Rutgers-Newark leader apologizes after video shows her screaming at officers who stopped her from leaving the scene of an accident in which her driver hit a police cruiser.

June 25, 2019
 

The black sedan pulling up to the curb hit the police cruiser parked in front of it. The officers in the car and another nearby asked the driver of the sedan for information about the accident.

That infuriated the person the driver was there to pick up: Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University at Newark. "If I miss my airplane, you folks are in trouble!" Cantor shouted at the officers, who said Cantor and the driver could not leave until a supervisor arrived.

Another officer arrived moments later and sought to assess the situation. "How are you?" she asked Cantor. "I'm not well," she responded, reiterating her frustration about possibly missing her flight.

"Who are you?" the officer asked. "I'm the chancellor!" Cantor virtually exploded, eyes wide and face twisted into a furious scowl.

The confrontation in March, captured on a police officer's bodycam (video below) and released to NJ Advance Media after an open records request this month, elicited an apology from Cantor's office.

"The chancellor just recently saw the video of the incident from several months ago and reached out to the officers with an apology. They have responded with appreciation for her sentiments."

Northjersey.com published what it said was a copy of Cantor's apology to the officers.

"I write with my heartfelt apology to you for the way I reacted to the situation," the news organization quoted Cantor as saying in her letter. "I realize clearly that I was not my best self that morning. I have great respect for RUPD and am grateful for the work that our officers do every day to keep our campus and community safe and secure."

NJ Advance Media quoted the chief of the Rutgers-Newark police, Carmelo (John) Huertas, as accepting the apology.

"I appreciate Chancellor Cantor taking the time to review the video. I along with the RUPD are appreciative of her kind words and support. The sentiment is extremely appreciated and we look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor’s Office," Huertas said.

Cantor's staff expressed impatience as officers said they needed to wait for their supervisors to arrive before releasing Cantor for the airport.

"Take a picture and let her go," one of her aides said. "Would you do this if it was the president of the United States?"

"Yes," one of the officers said.

"No, no you wouldn't," the aide continued.

"We have to do what we have to do. We have to do our job just like you have to do your job," the officer responded.

"It's okay for you to do this under some circumstances, but now it's not," Cantor's aide said. "That's the thing about being thoughtful and strategic. You have to know who you're dealing with and how and where," she said, suggesting that the officers should have treated Cantor differently because of her position.

Cantor continued to rail at the officers as they asked the driver for his driver's license and registration. "He's a Rutgers police …" she screamed. "It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. He literally tapped …"

The police report described the incident as more than a tap. The vehicle "struck the passenger side rear bumper …causing vehicle 1 to jump/shake violently," it said.

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