Retired ‘road rage’ cop not allowed to carry gun in NJ
JERSEY CITY — A retired police officer who was pushed off the force after at least three separate road rage incidents won't be allowed to walk the streets of New Jersey carrying a deadly weapon.
Keith S. Russell’s application for a permit was denied by his former police department as well as the State Police and a Superior Court judge. His appeal was denied Wednesday by an appellate court panel that agreed that granting Russell a permit “would not be in the interests of the public health, safety or welfare.”
New Jersey gun owners need to obtain a special permit in order to carry a firearm in public. Gun owners have to apply to their local police department or the State Police and explain their need. Law enforcement officials’ decision on permits are reviewed by a judge.
Second Amendment advocates say New Jersey’s gun-carry permit criteria is so difficult to meet that few people other than retired cops are granted license to carry.
Russell’s credentials as a former, cop, however, were not enough to get him a permit.
In refusing to sign off on his application, the Jersey City Police Department pointed to three road rage incidents in 2010.
In April 2010, Russell was involved in an off-duty altercation on Route 280 with an assistant attorney general of New York. The official said Russell cut off her husband, then followed them until he forced them to stop on a side street. The official said Russell got out of his personal truck and slammed his badge on their window. She called police and told them that Russell did not appear to be acting “normal.”
In May 2010, Russell reportedly tried to drive head-on into a car driven by a contractor he had hired to do work on his home. The contractor said Russell struck his vehicle, struck it and then nearly ran him off the road.
In September 2010, Russell reportedly threatened a woman with a knife with a five-inch blade after she yelled at him for cutting off two cars waiting in line at a gas station in East Whippany. In that incident, Russell was charged with possession of a weapon and disorderly conduct. He later copped a plea to loitering and paid a fine in Municipal Court.
Russell also faced 24 internal disciplinary charges stemming from the three incidents, but all were dropped after he settled with the department and agreed to give up his job. Russell, who retired in 2011 after 24 years, is collecting a public pension of more than $63,100 a year for the rest of his life.
Russell had applied for a permit because he intended to open a business that provided armored vehicles for people “who fly in with their security teams.” The company would not provide armored escorts, but Russell said he wanted to carry a gun as protection because he didn’t want anyone to use his family “as leverage to take a security vehicle.”
The judge who heard his case said that didn’t “make sense.”
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.