Michael Coppola, a 43-year-old resident of Totowa, was arrested on August 9th after he was caught up in a drug bust. This puts Coppola, and the entire Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department, in a precarious position because he was serving as the department’s Police Chief prior to his arrest.
According to reports, Coppola had been allegedly attempting to purchase drugs on the internet. He was having the goods delivered to a specific post office box. When investigators learned of these accusations, they attempted to ensnare Coppola by filling a package full of fake cocaine in response to his online ads and putting it inside his post office box.
The Police Chief picked up the package, so officers intercepted and took him into police custody. It’s unclear where he was headed with the drugs. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and an attempt to possess cocaine. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission decided to suspend the police chief for 90 days without pay as a response to the investigation and subsequent arrest.
The police chief’s department has about 28 officers that are tasked with overseeing the patrol of Palisades Interstate Park and a nearby eleven-mile stretch of highway. Their department has been under constant investigation for multiple alleged violations of state guidelines regarding high-speed pursuits. Several congressmen have been conflicted on whether to dismantle and abolish the parkway police through legislation, but that responsibility lies with Governor Phil Murphy. The governor has not yet commented on the issue.