ACLU of NJ Report Shows Crisis in Policing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWARK, NJ — The ACLU of New Jersey today issued a report demonstrating that the problems plaguing the New Jersey State Police also affect police departments throughout the state. The ACLU called on the Governor and Attorney General to collect and disseminate complete information on problems of police violence, misconduct, racism, and corruption.
“The crisis in policing is much deeper than racial profiling and much more widespread than the State Police,” said Lenora Lapidus, ACLU-NJ Legal Director. “At a minimum, our report shows the need for an immediate, comprehensive audit of all police departments statewide, to include racial profiling data, citizen complaints, and racial makeup of police personnel.”
The report falls on the heels of a public admission to racial profiling in the State Police by the Govenor and Attorney General, as well as a plan for specific reforms. These actions by the state came only after years of knowing about the problems, denying them, and doing nothing about them. Furthermore, it is not yet clear that the state’s reforms will solve the problem.
“While the Attorney General and Governor deserve credit for recognizing problems in the State Police and for proposing steps to address them, their response falls short in several respects,” said David Rocah, ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney. “Their belated acknowledgement of the problems cannot absolve them of responsibility for having allowed them to fester for so long.”
The ACLU report included a 10-point plan to improve the police departments statewide. The recommendations include:
- Stamping Out Racial Profiling Statewide: Pass legislation that requires all police departments to track and report certain information on police stops, including the race of the person stopped.
- Releasing Critical Information on All Police Departments in New Jersey: The Attorney General’s office should annually compile and release the following information for every police department in the State, beginning immediately:
- The number, nature, and result of all internal investigations.
- The number, nature, and result of all citizen complaints.
- The racial composition of the police force and the area represented.
- The amount of taxpayer money paid to resolve police misconduct and whistleblower suits.
- Giving Police the Right Tools to Prevent Officer Misconduct: Require all police departments to use a successful police industry tool, called an Early Warning System. The system, which is endorsed by the US Department of Justice and Police Foundation, tracks “problem” indicators (complaints, weapon discharge reports, court rulings on officer conduct, etc.) so that individual officers can be given the supervision, psychiatric help, education, or discipline they need.
- Creating Effective, Independent Police Review Systems: The most effective police review model has three parts:
- An independent Civilian Review Board to monitor complaints.
- An independent auditing body to get information and recommend changes.
- An Inspector General attached to the police and supervised by the auditing body to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
“The Attorney General acknowledges in his report that racial profiling is not just a problem of the State Police,” added Kevin Keenan, Acting Executive Director. “The ACLU agrees and we call for statewide reforms to track and prevent such problems, as well as real systems of accountability that go beyond the fox guarding the hen house.”
The ACLU of NJ report on policing can be found at:
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