Two Camden County officials accused the local Policemen's Benevolent Association yesterday of vandalism related to a proposal to privatize the county jail.
The police union denied any connection to slashed tires at County Administrator Ross Angilella's home or leaves burned outside Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr.'s home.
The county's prosecutor has met with union members to try to cool tempers over the privatization proposal, spokesman Jason Laughlin said last night, but no individual or organization is suspected in the vandalism. Local police are investigating.
Angilella, of Haddon Township, told police that tires on two family cars had been slashed in separate incidents within a week. Protest literature was found under a car parked on the street.
Cappelli told Collingswood police that a pile of leaves was dumped on his lawn and set on fire last week while his wife and five children were home.
"We have tried negotiating with the state and local PBA on this issue and have asked them to propose solutions. . . . Instead, it appears that they have chosen to resort to scare tactics," Angilella said in a statement.
Cappelli and Angilella "are absolutely disgraceful," union attorney Stuart Alterman said. "They have slandered members' reputations with no evidence."
The freeholders have been meeting this week with municipalities to explain their intention to solicit bids for a company to manage the 22-year-old jail in Camden.
About 60 union members and their families turned out for a meeting Tuesday in Haddon Township.
"This is nonviolent. The PBA does not condone any crime or vandalism," union spokesman Rob Parker said. "We just want to let them know our side of the story."