N.J. fire chief suspended amid 2 investigations into conduct
East Orange Fire Chief Andre Williams faces allegations of harassment from at least 11 fellow firefighters
EAST ORANGE, N.J. — East Orange officials on Monday suspended Fire Chief Andre Williams, who faces two investigations into his conduct, and promoted a deputy chief to the role temporarily.
City spokeswoman Connie Jackson said that effective Monday, Deputy Chief Bruce Davis Jr. was promoted to acting chief. Williams was placed on paid leave, she confirmed.
The move comes two days after NJ Advance Media on Saturday reported the existence of an Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigation into Williams. That investigation is on top of a separate probe that is being conducted by an outside counsel hired by the city.
Jackson said the suspension is pending the completion of the investigation by outside counsel Victor A. Afanador, of Newark and Philadelphia-based Lite DePalma Greenberg & Afanador, LLC, who was assigned in September.
Williams did not return a call Monday.
The investigation by prosecutors was triggered when a firefighter went to the city’s police department with allegations of misconduct, confirmed East Orange City Council member Amy Lewis last week. But firefighters have aired grievances about Williams for months. In a September letter sent to Mayor Ted Green, 11 of the roughly 200 members of East Orange’s paid fire department came forward with complaints about Williams’ leadership, saying they were harassed.
In the letter, authors William Kingston and Garrett Winn, who are presidents of the two fire unions in East Orange, wrote that they either wanted Williams placed on leave or their members who felt harassed to be able to take paid leave. Neither could immediately be reached Monday night.
City Council member Amy Lewis, who chairs the body’s public safety committee, said last week she supported placing Williams on leave.
According to pension records, Williams makes $153,700 a year in his position.