In 2012, ACLU-NJ volunteers called 497 local and specialized police departments in New Jersey and asked how to file an internal affairs complaint. They asked if they could file a complaint anonymously, by phone, as a juvenile without a parent present or as a third-party. They also asked if immigration officials would be contacted if an undocumented person wanted to file a complaint. New Jersey allows for complaints to be filed under any of those conditions.
The calls were recorded. Listed below are 20 audio recordings of some of the responses the volunteers received.
The clips below are listed in the order they appear in the Internal Affairs Report.
Additionally, 42 departments did not accept telephone calls from blocked numbers.
“his family should get an attorney before he wants to file a formal complaint against a police officer”
One officer with a Hudson County police department stopped speaking and refused to answer basic questions about the complaint process because our volunteer would not give his name.
“busy, busy day” and “sometimes you can Google a question.”
anonymous complaint would never happen in any jurisdiction because many false complaints would be filed.
Our volunteers repeatedly reported pressure from police personnel to give their names even though the law clearly states that anonymous complaints must be accepted.
"Everybody has a constitutional right to [face] their accuser; it’s in our Constitution."
"What about the credibility” of the complaint?
“loses its life if it was not coming from a complainant directly.”
"a parent or guardian … would have to be with”
“would at least need an adult with him”
“depended on what’s happening and what's going on.”
“wouldn’t say [whether ICE] would or wouldn’t”
“If the investigation goes far enough, and he’s not an actual citizen, then, yeah, [ICE] would have to be notified.”
“can’t say that we will not”
“very well possible [that immigration would be notified] because once it gets into the system, immigration has all access to the computers.”
“If he is an illegal alien, I don’t know if he should be running around making complaints.”
“So, he’s an illegal.”
“We will make accommodations to speak with that individual and take his complaint seriously… If there is a language barrier, we will make accommodations to hear [his complaint] in his native language.”
- The Report: The Crisis Continues Inside Police Internal Affairs (1mb PDF)
- ACLU-NJ Report Reveals Persistent Problems in Internal Affairs Statewide
- See Which Towns Scored Perfectly (120k PDF)
- 2009 Report: The Crisis Inside Police Internal Affairs (1.2mb PDF)
- Internal Affairs Roll Call Training Video