New Jersey Police Complaint System 'Broken,' Report Says
The ACLU said many local police departments don't know the rules for residents to file complaints against them.
- February 12, 2013
The system for citizens to file complaints against police "is riddled with problems," according to a report on WNYC.org.
State law protects residents who make complaints about police behavior and allows for complaints to be made anonymously. New Jersey Public Radio and the ACLU found that many local police officers apparently do not know the rules for residents to file complaints, according to the report.
The ACLU called 497 police departments in New Jersey and asked officers questions about filing complaints. More than half the departments answered at least one question incorrectly, according to the report. 51 departments did not get a single question right. A list of departments whose officers answered everything correctly is available online here.
Fair Lawn is one of 21 police departments in Bergen County where officers answered all five questions correctly, but it's also fielded more than a few complaints in recent years.
A widget included in the WNYC.org report — and embedded above — allows readers to search for complaint sheets by police department.
The Fair Lawn police department received 19 formal complaints in 2010 and 29 complaints in 2011, according to internal affairs summary reports. Twelve of those 40 complaints have been sustained, reports show, but it's not clear what violations occurred or what officers were involved.
Saddle Brook police, on the other hand, did not register a perfect score on their understanding of proper complaint procedures, but received only seven complaints total in 2010 and 2011. None of the complaints were sustained.
The complaint records are sent to Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa's office, but don't contain enough context to be valuable, according to the report. Because complaint records don't state whether numerous incidents involve the same officer, patterns in the complaints that might otherwise prove useful fail to emerge.
Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that more detailed records are needed to improve practices, according to the report.
See More on Patch
- Auxiliary Police Swear in Newest Member
- Bomb Scare Temporarily Closes Fair Lawn Avenue Bridge
- Three Local Residents Confirmed Safe After Boston Marathon Blasts
- Bloody Real Housewives Brawl Leads To Assault Claims Against Cast Members
- Preparedness is Key in School Safety, Police, School Officials Say
Most Popular articles
- $600K Turf Project Closing Sasso Field For Summer
- Fair Lawn Native Embarks on Professional Baseball Career
- 'Dangerous Dog' Law, High School Graduation, Special Needs Dance in the Week Ahead
- Convicted Burglar Charged with Trespassing Near Site of Break-In
- Campania Restaurant Closes Three Months After Chef's Suicide