A court-appointed team monitoring the New Jersey State Police’s efforts to end racial profiling found the agency appears “to have reached a watershed moment” by correcting questionable tactics used during motor vehicle stops, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. With the monitor’s latest report, Gov. Jon Corzine said “it’s very close to the time” when he will ask a federal court to end oversight of the State Police that began in the wake of a 1998 shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike when two state troopers stopped a van carrying four minority men and riddled it with bullets. Three passengers in the van were seriously wounded and the event triggered a national debate on racial profiling.
The governor said the decision would be made once a panel of 21 civil rights and law enforcement experts he appointed last year issues its report, as early as next month, on whether to end the oversight and how to make sure the reforms remain in place once the monitors leave. Corzine appointed the panel after the U.S. Justice Department asked New Jersey last year to join it in asking the U.S. District Court in Trenton to dissolve the consent decree because the court-appointed monitors found the agency in full compliance.