New Jersey Lottery Scratch-Off Cop Sent for Electric Shock Therapy, Sues ‘Corrupt’ Department
Posted on: July 18, 2019, 04:17h.
Last updated on: July 18, 2019, 04:22h.
A New Jersey police corporal says he was bullied into attending a gambling addiction clinic after buying lottery tickets, where he was forced to endure “neurological testing with electrical shocks applied to (his) head.”
Corporal Rick Vanderclock is suing the Wayne County Police Department and Police Chief James Clarke for insisting he attend a problem-gambling program hundreds of miles away in Florida at his own expense, or lose his job, despite the veteran officer not being a diagnosed gambling addict.
Vanderclock had a “spotless record,” the lawsuit asserts, but was suspended without pay after an anonymous member of the public accused him of “gambling on duty” because they witnessed him buy some scratch-off tickets.
‘Humiliating and Discriminatory’
According to the civil case filed July 10 in the Passaic County Superior Court and seen by NJ.com, as well as receiving electric-shock aversion therapy, Vanderclock was strip-searched and monitored while he slept as part of treatment that was “punitive, harassing, humiliating and discriminatory.”
He contests that not only was the treatment “medically unnecessary,” because he didn’t have a gambling problem and had never held a gambling debt, it is not actually against the rules for a police officer to buy lottery scratch-offs while on duty.
The Wayne Police Department’s policies prohibit illegal gambling, but not legal gambling, the lawsuit states.
Electric Shock Treatment: Is That Still a Thing?
As archaic as it sounds, electric shock treatment is still used in a very limited number of problem gambling-treatment clinics. Although writing 20 years ago, a US National Research Council Committee study, The Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling (1999), described the process:
Aversion treatment consists of applying an unpleasant stimulus, such as a small electric shock, while the patient reads phrases that describe gambling behavior. During the procedure’s final phrase, the patient reads about an alternative activity to gambling, such as returning home, but receives no shock.
Vanderclock believes he was the victim of a conspiracy instigated by the department’s most senior officers who turned against him after he supported a colleague, Officer Erik Ferschman, who was fired, then reinstated, for taking an authorized meal break in 2015.
He became even less popular with the top brass in 2017 when he and other members of Police Benevolent Association Local 136 initiated a vote of no confidence in Clarke’s ability to lead the department.
Vanderclock developed PTSD after he was called to a fatal vehicle collision where he witnessed a driver burn to death, an experience that left him “deeply disturbed” and “temporarily disabled.” But PTSD was a condition the Wayne County Police Department refused to take seriously, asserts the complaint.
It names several senior members of the department, alleging racketeering, discrimination, harassment, negligence, retaliation, creating a hostile work environment and emotional distress, as well as violations of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.