As reported in the Trentonian on September 22, 2009, federal oversight of the New Jersey State Police has come to an end. U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper has ended federal monitoring of the New Jersey State Police more than 10 years after the shooting of unarmed minority men during a highway traffic stop prompted intervention over racial profiling.
Judge Cooper signed the order dissolving a consent decree, following a joint motion filed in August by the State and U.S. Justice Department. The move followed Governor Jon Corzine’s bill signing in August that established an office within the State Attorney General’s office to oversee the State Police.
State Police agreed to federal oversight after troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike shot at a van containing four minority men during a 1998 traffic stop, wounding three of them. The agency has implemented major changes since then, including training and new supervisory policies to monitor road stops. In addition, trooper vehicles now contain dashboard cameras to videotape traffic stops.
In a 2007 semiannual report, federal monitor Jim Ginger said that the State Police force is a different organization than when troopers fired on the van. Ginger and a second monitor tracked troopers’ stops of minority motorists for years, issuing reports every six months. The monitors found the State Police consistently in compliance for several years before the judge lifted the order. Corzine confirmed the finding with an independent review.
David Jones, President of the State Police Fraternal Association, commended the troopers but condemned the Attorney General’s office for not having policies and systems in place that would have allowed the State Police to identify and resolve isolated incidents of profiling. Specifically, Jones stated, “Former attorneys general for their own political expediency were willing to throw the state police under the bus…a decade later, we can look back at who the true professionals are and at those people who would sacrifice public safety for their own careers.”
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