Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

From trauma to trust

May 8, 2018

This article and short video report a project in Newark, NJ aimed at helping police and community understand each other better. Thus far, 117 officers and 163 community members have met in small groups to share the personal trauma they have experienced. The city’s police director says “Police have to put themselves in the residents’ shoes, the residents have to put themselves in the police shoes.”

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Prosecutor authority

March 31, 2018

There are interesting variations across the 50 states in law, structures, and practices related to police. This article reports a county prosecutor in New Jersey ordering the replacement of an internal affairs head in a local police department, as allowed by state regulations. He called the move extraordinary and wrote that it is “quite apparent that the Carteret Police Department is in need of effective leadership at the highest level.  As such, the duties associated with internal affairs must fall to another.”

Police misconduct in New Jersey

February 2, 2018

Updating an earlier post, links to a series of 20 articles based on a 2-year local news investigation of police misconduct in New Jersey are available here. Topics include secret civil settlements, lack of transparency, weak accountability, inconsistent drug testing, and retaliation against whistleblowers.

Getting oversight right

January 24, 2018

This article discusses the pros and cons of various alternatives for achieving police accountability, such as civilian review, police auditors, and special commissions. The public tends to want an independent process but the oversight systems don’t always succeed and they risk diluting the chief or sheriff’s responsibility for discipline. Chicago is cited as one place currently trying several options at once.

Civil settlements in New Jersey

January 23, 2018

This article reports 10 years of civil settlements and judgments against police in New Jersey, totaling at least $42 million. Cases involving bodily injury or death accounted for almost $31 million of the payouts. The 2-year press inquiry found that “From internal affairs to the courthouse, a weave of secret investigations, quiet payouts, nondisclosure agreements and court-enforced silence ends up keeping horrendous conduct and multi-million-dollar payouts away from public scrutiny.”

“Professional courtesy” run amok

January 23, 2018

The NYPD police union is reducing the number of courtesy cards (also known as “get out of jail free cards”) distributed annually to its active and retired members after finding them for sale on eBay, according to this article. The insidious result of making corruption a job perk, especially a job that is supposed to represent the rule of law, is discussed in this column.

Pretrial release in the states

November 1, 2017

This article summarizes a new analysis of pretrial practices in the 50 states, with an emphasis on better risk assessment of arrestees and less reliance on traditional bail. Kentucky and Virginia have been leaders in validating assessments while New Jersey has effectively eliminated secured money bail. However, many states have yet to adopt reforms, despite the nonpartisan nature of the issue. The full report is available here.

Transparency or public relations?

October 26, 2017

This article reviews police practices in releasing body cam video, noting a tendency to promote positive stories while refusing to provide video in situations where actions might have been improper. This pattern risks hurting police legitimacy if the public comes to believe that officials are cherry-picking what to release rather than truly honoring transparency.

Impact of social media

September 21, 2017

A colloquium on “The impact of social media on crime, terrorism, and national security” recently held at Rutgers University featured law enforcement, national security, and civil liberties experts. Here is a video link to the 90-minute event.

Layoffs in Bergen County, NJ

July 3, 2017

The Bergen County Police Department was merged into the county’s sheriff department in 2015 as the Bureau of Police Services, with its union and pay scales intact. This week, 26 officers were laid off and another 11 were demoted. The sheriff cites state-mandated deputy staffing in court security positions, while the officers claim union-busting, according to this article.