Long Hill police chief alleges former mayor asked him if he was in the Taliban
A police chief in Morris County is preparing to file a lawsuit, alleging racist and anti-Muslim comments from within his own government.
Long Hill Police Chief Ahmed Naga says it is a pattern of behavior coming from the small town of fewer than 10,000 people.
“The hostilities increased over a number of months, which forced me to file an internal complaint,” Naga says.
Naga, 44, is Muslim. He was born in Egypt and came to the United States when he was a child. He says he has always wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. But he says his dream job has turned into a nightmare after a series of incidents.
He says that one such incident involved the then-Mayor Guy Piserchia, who is the current deputy mayor. Naga alleges that Piserchia asked him if he was a member of the Taliban during a Sept. 11 ceremony.
"He looks at me and he says chief full disclosure I have to ask you are you a member of the Taliban by any chance,” Naga says.
Piserchia supported Naga's promotion to chief four years ago.
"He goes, ‘I never knew where the name Naga stemmed from.’ And then he follows up and says, ‘Had I known you were Muslim I would have never promoted you to chief,’” says Naga.
He says this harassment was routine. He claims a town worker nicknamed him “Muhatma Naga.”
Naga says he gave up a degree in computer science to pay his own way through the police academy.
Naga and his attorney say that they have put the town on notice that they plan to sue.
"You have racist individuals in power there and it's dangerous and it's scary and someone needs to look at this very closely,” says attorney Patrick Toscano.
They are not the only ones who have lost faith in the town’s leadership
“I have no confidence. A vote of no confidence,” says resident Jena Rae.
She has lived in town for nearly 30 years and says she is shocked by the claims. Other residents are taking the incidents personally.
“Knowing that this kind of mindset is here in the committees and the leaders – it’s hurtful,” says one resident.
This resident told News 12 that if Naga can speak out, then he should too. He came to confront the town leaders at a committee meeting.
But that meeting was moved to Zoom instead of in-person. Current Mayor Matthew Dorsi says this is due to threats made against Naga. Dorsi and the town committee say that Naga’s racism claims are baseless.
Naga says they are retaliating by investigating him. He says he is willing to stay on the job if things change.
“I don’t want to walk away from law enforcement, it’s something I’ve dreamed of,” he says.
He says the culture needs to change. Some residents showed up, upset to learn the meeting was only over Zoom. Naga's lawyer says the county prosecutor or attorney general should look into the conduct of the committee.