As reported by nj.com, complaints against New Jersey State Police troopers for everything from excessive force to minor paperwork violations fell for the fourth year in a row in 2010, but more troopers faced the most serious allegations of misconduct, a new report shows. The public and other officers filed 848 complaints against troopers in 2010, down from 886 in 2009 and the fewest of any year during the past decade, according to the report, issued late last week by the division’s Office of Professional Standards.
The complaints spawned misconduct investigations of 437 troopers, the most since 2006. With only about half of these 290 investigations against the troopers completed, 62 charges were substantiated, also the most since 2006, according to the report and past statistics. The State Police did not identify the troopers involved or elaborate on their infractions. The report also said that the division received 1,137 citizen compliments last year thanking troopers for their work.
Christopher Burgos, the newly-elected president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, said the numbers were impressive given that troopers had more than two million encounters with citizens in 2010. “Put us against any agency out there, and no one’s under the scrutiny we are,” Burgos said. “The high performance and professionalism far excels any other agency out there. But we take seriously what goes on with disciplinary matters and will defend our members appropriately.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said it was still reviewing the report but criticized the division for not including the race or ethnicity of those who filed complaints, the number of pending cases from prior years or the number of punishments handed down by the type of complaint. Deborah Jacobs, president of the ACLU, said it will be hard to draw any conclusions from the report because it is too vague. “Unfortunately, the state provides less and less information to the public about the State Police rather than more and more,” Jacobs said. “We’re also very concerned that it took a full calendar year to release.”
Lieutenant Stephen Jones, a spokesman for the State Police, said the report included the same information as it always has in the past. He said it came out late in the year because the office was more focused on closing outstanding cases. Jones also said a higher percentage of complaints are being generated internally, which shows the division is better policing itself.