Roughly 24 hours after one of his officers was arrested on drug and weapon charges, Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle was still angry.
Ptl. Thomas Eden Jr. was outside a Black Horse Pike motel room where he allegedly purchased seven prescription pills—five 30 mg Percocets and two Oxycontin placebos—from a confidential informant.
"I am angered that Mr. Eden allegedly abused his position of trust by violating the very laws he swore to uphold and defend as a Gloucester Township Police officer," Earle said during a press conference held inside Council chambers at the Chews Landing Road municipal building Wednesday afternoon.
Eden was arrested Tuesday at approximately 2:30 p.m. at the Howard Johnson Express Inn at 832 N. Black Horse Pike, in the township's Blenheim section, after he allegedly purchased seven prescription pills from a police informant. He was on duty, in full uniform and driving a township police cruiser at the time, according to Earle.
In addition to the seven pills he allegedly purchased, Eden was charged with possessing three oxycodone and two alprazolam pills, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Gloucester Township Patch on Wednesday.
Eden, who has served with Gloucester Township Police Department for seven-and-a-half years, has been charged with third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, third-degree possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, third-degree possession of an imitation controlled dangerous substance and second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense.
No one answered the door at a Delaware Avenue, Erial, residence that tax records indicate is owned by Thomas Eden Jr. A message left at the Erial home of Eden's parents late Wednesday afternoon was not returned.
Eden, 31, is scheduled to make his initial appearance in court on April 11. He was released on his own recognizance under the condition he surrender all personal weapons and Police Department-issued equipment, according to the arrest warrant.
Eden has been suspended without pay, according to Earle, who noted an "intent to dismiss" the officer.
Earle and Mayor David Mayer defended the integrity of the Police Department during the press conference.
"These reprehensible acts allegedly committed by this one person are in no way indicative of the 178 sworn and civilian employees of the Gloucester Township Police Department who serve and protect this great community," he said.
Earle expressed pride in the work of the department's Professional Standards Bureau, or internal affairs division, which investigated an anonymous tip that indicated Eden was illegally obtaining prescription drugs.
"I am thankful to the officers that investigated these unlawful acts committed by Mr. Eden and have brought him to answer for his alleged crimes, while showing the community that we will not stand for anything less than dedication to professionalism and commitment to excellence," Earle said.
The police chief refused to answer several questions from reporters about the timing of the anonymous tip, but did say the investigation intensified sometime last week. It remains an active investigation, Earle said.
Mayer also expressed "frustration and anger" over Eden's alleged criminal activity.
"We have worked over the last two-and-a-half years to really develop a new community policing strategy here in Gloucester Township. It has been phenomenal, where I have residents that are talking to me about how accessible our police department is. Whether it is bike patrols or police officers in golf carts in our parks, we are more accessible today than ever before," the mayor said. "The reputation of our department I think is really unparallelled. When you have an issue like this happen, it certainly is very frustrating to us."
No one else was arrested Tuesday at Howard Johnson Express Inn in connection with the police-controlled drug buy targeting Eden, Earle said.
Earle urged anyone who has information about possible illegal activities by Eden to call the Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau at 856-374-5707.