Our fear of violent street crime should not blind us to the profound evil that is perpetrated when those sworn to uphold and enforce the law themselves become lawbreakers.
— John A. Powell, former ACLU National Legal Director
Police have the vital and difficult job of protecting public safety. Performing this job effectively does not require sacrificing civil liberties. All New Jersey police agencies -- from the state patrol to city police forces -- need to respect the rights of individuals while enforcing the law. And when allegations of misconduct arise, there must be policies and mechanisms to hold police accountable for their actions.
Stop-and-frisk. It started out as a rare tactic for police to use if there was reasonable suspicion that a person was committing or about to commit a crime. Unfortunately, in major cities, stop-and-frisk has become a fact of daily life for communities of color.
In Newark, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of how often police are stopping and patting down residents—and why.
Every month, the Newark Police Department (NPD) releases information on all stops, including how many people were stopped, where they were stopped, and whether the stops led to an arrest or not. The information also reveals who officers are stopping by reporting on the race and ages of the individuals, among other details. The ACLU-NJ, which advocated for the release of the data, hopes the information will give the public a better understanding of how the NPD uses stop-and-frisk.
The ACLU-NJ has released a roll call training video that explains best practices and guidelines for officers who receive internal affairs complaints. The video, which exclusively features New Jersey law enforcement professionals, is based on the state Attorney General’s statewide guidelines on internal affairs and provides a much-needed tool for training officers.
A step-by-step guide that will aid all New Jerseyans in assessing and documenting the treatment of citizens by police in their towns. Both toolkits below are identical except one is in black and white (for easier printing) and the other is in color. The toolkits are in PDF format and are each less than 1.5mb in size.
On September 9, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice seeking federal oversight of the troubled Newark Police Department. The ACLU-NJ's petition details 418 complaints of serious police abuse, including false arrests, theft, alleged beatings, retaliation and other forms of misconduct by police. After investigating the practices of the Newark Police Department, the ACLU-NJ reached a conclusion: the problem is too big to take on without outside help.
Can't find what you're looking for? Try looking in the Police Practices Archives.
In June 2011, the ACLU-NJ and ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project released a study that examines the use of confidential informants in New Jersey. The study revealed inconsistent policies governing the use of confidential informants at all levels of government, which has led to violations of informants' rights and compromises in the integrity of criminal investigations. The report offers a series of recommendations for police departments who use confidential informants and it has spurred three New Jersey counties to begin reforming their policies after reviewing an early draft of the report. View a copy of the Confidential Informant Report now
Read about some of the 23 recently-settled cases against the Newark Police Department involving civilians, where people received payouts totaling over $1.6 million from the City of Newark because of some kind of police misconduct in the The Settlement Project: Citizen Edition. These cases include some claims of truly reprehensible brutality, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and negligence.
Between January 1, 2008 and the present, eleven cases brought against the Newark Police by its own employees settled, at a taxpayer cost of nearly $2.1 million. Seven more employee cases remain pending. Although taxpayers must foot the entire bill for these settlements, Newark doesn't readily publicize these cases or settlements, which leaves the public in the dark about what claims are made, how they are settled, and what if any corrective action results from these expensive resolutions. Read about some of these cases in the The Settlement Project: Employee Edition.