Why No State Police Reform From Whitman?

Growing Coalition Calls for Independent Auditor & Civilian Complaint Review Board for State Police

On July 13, 1999-thirty years after an incident of police brutality helped spark the Newark riots-a broad coalition of organizations called upon Governor Whitman to make the State Police accountable to independent bodies, not just the Attorney General's office. The organizations included the ACLU-NJ, Black Ministers Council, NJ Coalition Against Police Brutality, NJ Lesbian and Gay Coalition, and People's Organization for Progress.

The NJ NAACP has since joined the call for real reform, and other organizations that want to end bigotry and bad policing are encouraged to contact the ACLU-NJ.

"A civilian complaint review board and an outside auditor will ensure that the State fulfills its promise of a new, improved State Police force," said Rev. Dwight Gill of the Black Ministers Council. "Without those mechanisms, the public will continue—with good reason—to doubt the integrity of the State Police."

"The Governor's idea of a solution is to assign the Attorney General to watch over the State Police," stated Kevin Keenan, Acting Executive Di- rector of the ACLU-NJ. "The Attorney General's Office has been part of the problem. What's needed is external accountability that will truly restore the public's faith in policing."

"The Governor's reports are a whitewash on racism and sexism in the State Police," said King Downing of the People's Organization for Progress. "The reports themselves are proof that the state cannot be relied on to police itself."

Civilian complaint review boards have been put in place in dozens of cities over the past thirty years—so many that there are two professional associations of civilian review boards. Independent Police Auditors (IPA) have been hired in San Jose, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere. In 1996, the Los Angeles Police Department hired an inspector general to review the operations of the Internal Affairs Division. In 1996, the Philadelphia Police gave broad auditing powers to the ACLU and NAACP.

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