Last night, WTXF-TV reporter Chris O’Connell showed the Philadelphia area TV audience a two-year-old video of the chief and some firefighters from New Jersey’s Somerdale Fire Department (Camden County) mocking a man with developmental disabilities who is also described as a department member. The person who took the video and provided it to the news media is Mike Miller, a former member. Miller, whose family had been firefighters for four generations, explains in the news story why he is a former member and that he is sharing the video now because the recent passing of his grandmother, who had also been a volunteer, prompted him to do the right thing.
According to the news report, the entire department underwent sensitivity training when Borough of Somerdale officials became aware of the incident in 2011. The uncensored video has been on YouTube for almost a year and can be found here. The sexual banter is pretty explicit and the whole episode is quite cruel.
Video shows Somerdale’s Fire Chief Steve Daniels, along with a captain, a lieutenant and other firefighters all making inappropriate sexual comments to the disabled man who doesn’t seem to understand why everyone is laughing.
Miller was terminated from Somerdale Fire Department 2 years ago. The department says he was fired because he broke the rules.
Miller says he was targeted for speaking out against department policies.
“This was a continuing pattern of the type of things that went on there and that I needed to record it and have it”
FOX 29′s Chris O’Connell went to the Somerdale Fire House to ask Chief Daniels about the video but he wasn’t there.
On the phone he tells us he’s quote “deeply sorry” for what was said in the video. And says quote “since our training we haven’t had any more incidents. We think we have taken steps so this never happens again.”
FOX 29′s Chris O’Connell did speak with the Somerdale mayor tonight. He explains that he is disturbed by the video, but believes sensitivity training was the appropriate way to handle it.
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