With Admissions Like These . . . Why No Real Reform From Whitman?

Stories of Police Misconduct Excerpted from the Interim and Final Reports of Governor Whitman's State Police Review Team

"[A]vailable data indicate[s] that the overwhelming majority of search- es [77.2 percent] involved black or Hispanic persons. Specifically, of the 1,193 searches for which data are avail- able, 21.4 percent involved a white person, more than half [53.1 percent] involved a black person, and almost one of every four [24.1 percent] involved a Hispanic person." Page 27, Interim Report.

"Our review finds that during the three-year period we examined, there were a total of 2,871 arrests. Of these, 932 [32.5 percent] involved white persons, 1,772 [61.7 percent] involved black persons, and 167 [5.8 percent] involved persons of other races." Page 29, Interim Report.

"The [State Police] experi- enced a fairly successful period of mi- nority recruiting between 1978 and 1993 while operating under the Consent Decree [demanded by the US Department of Justice] . . . The 1975 Consent Decree was dissolved on October 19, 1992 . . ." Appointments to the Academy by Race: Minority Males: 1992 18.0 percent 1993 8.4 percent Pages 12-13, and 15, Final Report.

"New Jerseyranks near the bottom of the listing of the fourteen largest State Police agencies in the nation with a female sworn member proportion of 3 percent. This compares against 12 percent representation in Michigan and 10 percent in Massachusetts." Pages 17- 18, Final Report.

"[F]amily members make up a sizeable and growing representation in the classes [of entering Troopers]." Page 35, Final Report.

"In one case, an individual was stopped for speeding and told to get out of his car and sit on the guard rail. The statement given by the driver included detailed, consistent accounts of the trooper cursing at him, using racial slurs, forcing him to lay on the ground, and searching the contents of the car. The details given by this complainant, especially when compared to the frag- mentary statement of the trooper, gave a much higher credibility to the driver. However, the case was 'unsubstanti- ated.'" Page 89, Final Report.

"We also observed repeatedly statements or questions asked of the complainant or civilian witnesses in an attempt to discredit them. While it is always the duty of an investigator to attempt to establish the credibility of a witness, this was taken to the extreme in some cases. For instance, in questioning a complainant who had been stopped for speeding and subsequently complained about a trooper's attitude or behavior, the interviewer would aggressively seek admissions by the complainant of their original motor vehicle violation." Page 90, Final Report.

"We observed in several cases a problem which, for lack of a better term, may be called 'occupational arrogance.' . . . Simply put, it is the tendency for certain police officers to approach the public with an attitude that they, the officer, are in no way to be challenged or questioned." Page 94, Final Report.

"[A] person went to the station to complain, and was told to come back the next day. Before he could come back, the station commander called him and asked him what he was trying to accomplish. The station commander tried to discourage this person from filing a complaint, but ultimately completed [the complaint form, which] . . . came back to the very same station for investigation. The investigator examined the complainant's history back to 1972 by doing criminal history checks, reviewing internal documents, and contacting other police departments where this person had made complaints. The case was unsubstantiated based on the complainant's 'history.' " Pages 90-91, Final Report.

"In one particular instance, a municipal police supervisor forwarded a complaint to the internal affairs bureau from a school administrator that alleged a member of the State Police was selling drugs. This allegation was reviewed by internal affairs supervisors and deemed not worthy of further investigation. There was no indication in the case file why this decision was made." Page 93, Final Report.

"In one case, a trooper was scheduled to appear as a witness for a fellow trooper who was a defendant in a municipal court case. The case was postponed. As the citizen-complainants in the case were driving home after court, this witness trooper stopped their car within one mile of the courthouse, and issued a summons. The trooper claimed that he did not know that they were the same people. This occurred more than 30 miles away from the trooper's station in a completely different trooper area." Page 94, Final Report.

"In another case, a trooper stopped a driver for failure to stay right. At the scene, the trooper issued a summons for obstructed view [the driver had a graduation tassel hanging from his rearview mirror], and issued a warning for failure to stay right. The mother of the driver called the station to complain about the summons being issued. After that call, the trooper then issued a summons for failure to stay right and mailed it to the driver." Page 94, Final Report.

"In one case, several Hispanic individuals were involved in a motor vehicle stop. The complainants allege that the stop was based on profiling. A search of the vehicle revealed several thousands of dollars in cash. The subjects of the car were held at the station for over five hours in order to explain and justify the origin of the cash. The ensuing investigation included telephone calls to individuals in another state from whom the stopped individuals received the cash, as well as further interrogation of the vehicle occupants. Ultimately, the individuals were released along with their cash. In this case, the investigator at the troop level concluded all allegations as un- founded." Page 96, Final Report.

"If a civilian signed criminal complaints in addition to making an internal affairs complaint, it seemed that the investigator would mimic the disposition of the court if the court found the trooper not guilty. In those cases, the internal affairs complaint was very often automatically unsubstantiated or unfounded. This occurred despite the fact that administrative charges have a different threshold of proof [preponderance of the evidence instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt], as well as less restrictive rules of evidence." Page 102, Final Report.

"In one case, an off-duty trooper went into a municipal police district station to inquire about a local police action involving a relative. The trooper's behavior was confrontational bordering on aggressive. The municipal police integrity officer, a lieutenant, had all of the personnel from that agency who had contact with this trooper submit special reports, and forwarded them to the New Jersey State Police for use in conducting an internal investigation. Prior to the trooper's internal investiga- tion interview, he was given and allowed to read all of the municipal police reports." Page 99, Final Report.

"[A] female complained about inappropriate sexual contact by an off-duty trooper. She called the station about 1:30 p.m. to make the complaint. The station commander called the trooper at about 1:50 p.m. and advised him of the complaint and the complainant's identity. By the end of the work day, the complainant called back and said she wanted the complaint dropped." Page 99, Final Report.

"When criminal allegations have been made, we found that often no intervening actions were taken to protect the agency from further problems with the accused employee. In one case, troopers assigned to the casinos were being investigated for the unauthorized release of National Crime Information Clearinghouse information and other intelligence information to casino security. While the investigation was being conducted, the target officers continued to have full access to this sensitive information." Page 121, Final Report.

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