As reported by nj.com, State and County law enforcement officials have stepped up oversight of the Edison Police Department’s internal affairs unit, which has been beset by allegations that it launched politically motivated investigations and quashed credible claims of brutality. The new measures, imposed by the State Attorney General’s Office and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, come in the wake of a recent Star-Ledger series on the police department and its internal affairs functions.
Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesea, said allegations of excessive force are now investigated exclusively by the Prosecutor’s Office, bypassing the local internal affairs unit. Edison must now also provide monthly reports on its internal affairs activity instead of the quarterly reports required of other law enforcement agencies in New Jersey. Those reports typically consist of statistics. Edison must take the extra step of summarizing each of its internal affairs investigations, the spokesman said.
The State and County stopped short of taking over the department outright, a move sought by some residents and officers on the 168-member force. Loriquet said the monitoring is expected to continue indefinitely.
The newspaper’s series, published in December, revealed an agency in the grip of a vicious, years-long civil war. At least 15 officers or former officers had filed suit against the Township, claiming harassment, age discrimination, retaliation or political influence in promotions and demotions. A 16th lawsuit was filed after the series ran. Legal fees and settlements from those suits have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, the Star-Ledger found.
At least 30 officers were fired or abruptly resigned amid allegations of inappropriate or illegal behavior over the past two decades. During the same time period, 72 troopers were forced out of the State Police, an agency 17 times the size of the Edison Police Department.
Edison’s internal affairs unit has been at the heart of much of the friction in the agency. The Star-Ledger found an IA officer gathered information on politicians and other civilians, acts that are alleged to be done at the behest of the FBI. Attorneys also contend the unit has protected officers accused of brutality.