The majority of New Jersey’s local police departments routinely violate state law when handling civilian complaints about police misconduct, the American Civil Liberties Union charged today, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. Nearly 100,000 complaints — ranging from improper searches to excessive force — were filed against New Jersey police from 1996 to 2005. The ACLU’s Deborah Jacobs said police lose the public’s trust if there isn’t a fair process for airing grievances.
The ACLU contended that police agencies restrict the process of accepting complaints, and county prosecutors and the attorney general’s office need to improve their oversight of local departments. Local agencies are required by law to comply with the attorney general’s policies on internal affairs practices, issued in 1991 and last updated in 2000. ACLU volunteers called 503 police departments — including all municipal, county, park and transit agencies — and found many do not follow these policies.