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Brookhaven Council President Says Police ‘Hunted’ Him

The Brookhaven Borough Council president cried foul over a traffic stop last Friday night.

Terry Heller posted a lengthy account of the encounter to his Facebook page but declined to elaborate further during a phone conversation with DVJournal.

Heller, 51, a Republican who took office in 2018, claims the town police were hunting or targeting him because of how he voted on the council, as first reported in the Delaware County Times.

“On Friday evening, myself and a group of Brookhaven Borough volunteers went to a local establishment for dinner and drinks,” Heller wrote on Facebook. “We arrived at 8:45 p.m. and departed at 11:30 p.m. In that time span, I ingested exactly two lagers in nearly three hours. As I abhor DUI, I always make sure that I am well under the legal limit. In fact, I store a portable breathalyzer unit in my glove box.

“While I do not drink frequently, $60 is worth the investment to ensure my own safety and (the) safety of everyone else. As I got into my vehicle, I blew into my portable unit, which read .036. Mind you, I was not feeling even the slightest effects of alcohol.

“I traveled from the establishment to Wawa, where I picked up a bottle of water and a pretzel. After that, I turned right onto Egmoner Avenue, then left into the Brookhaven Giant parking lot. I was then pulled over by the BPD (Brookhaven Police Department).

“The reason given was running a red light. Note that this is a matter of opinion, and my opinion is that the light was solid green. There is no camera evidence,” he wrote.

Heller says he had voted against giving the officer who stopped him a raise the previous Monday and also disagreed with police Chief Michael Vice over the department’s overall funding.

Vice did not respond to requests for comment.

“After smelling alcohol, I submitted to a field sobriety test and breathalyzer. The breathalyzer came back well under the legal limit. I passed the field sobriety test with the exception of ‘reciting 1-30 too fast.’ Well, I talk fast, as anyone that knows me can attest to,” Heller recounted.

“Here is where it turns ugly. The officer who initiated the stop indicated that I may be ‘under the influence of narcotics,’ which is laughable. I have never used a narcotic in my life. I gladly submitted to a blood draw at Crozer, which is pending. I am 100 percent certain that it will come back well under the legal limit.

“I am saying that without question, this event was initiated by someone above the officer who initiated the stop. I am fairly certain that I was followed. Further, the officer that initiated the stop was denied a request for a raise the prior Monday,” Heller wrote.

“There is more regarding the current police leadership and how that leadership manages the department and traffic stops. There is no shortage of DUI being thrown out after charges (evidenced by public record).”

“Don’t question police spending to BPD police leadership, or you will be hunted,” said Heller.

Mike Chitwood, retired Upper Darby police superintendent and a former Philadelphia detective, scoffed at the idea that police would “hunt” someone unless they have a warrant for them.

The police don’t hunt or target ordinary members of the public, said Chitwood.

“If you’re wanted and a warrant is issued for your arrest, they’ll arrest you,” said Chitwood. And if you’re accused of “a serious crime,” he said U.S. Marshals would get involved. “They’re really good.”

“They can track your cell phone and tell where you are,” he said. But for the local police to pull a driver over, they must have probable cause.

“To call it a hunt is far-fetched.”

Heller disagrees.

“Needless to say, I am unsettled knowing that police leadership can hunt any individual that has budgetary or philosophical differences with them,” Heller wrote.

“Going forward, I will abstain from alcohol altogether, although I am not a frequent drinker. When you are in my position, it is best to do so in retrospect. I also strongly urge anyone not to even have a sip of beer when driving through Brookhaven when certain officers are on duty.

“I have not been charged and do not expect to be.

“I also urge anyone that has been charged by the BPD for questionable DUI to have an attorney look into the amount of ‘jacked up’ DUI, which is a directive of our police leadership. There is downward pressure on our officers to meet quotas, and that opinion comes from officers within the department, right to my ears.”

Heller may bring a civil suit but said he would reimburse the borough for its $5,000 insurance deductible.

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