Few New Jersey police departments met the requirements and best practices established to support public reporting of police misconduct, according to a report released today by the Office of the State Comptroller.
Out of 100 municipal police departments that were randomly selected for review, the OSC found that 80 failed to meet the attorney general’s mandate to make standardized internal affairs report forms publicly available in eleven languages. Of the 80, 31 police departments had no complaint form posted online.
“The law requires police departments to make it easy to report police misconduct, not put up barriers,” said acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh. “The website is, in effect, the front door. The public needs to be assured that the door is open to them if they want to file a complaint.”
Just five police departments included in the survey – Hoboken, Neptune City, Oceanport, Monroe (Gloucester County), and Spring Lake – met the top requirements.
While police departments in 20 municipalities were found to be compliant with basic reporting requirements — Bedminster, Bloomingdale, Collingswood, Edgewater, Elk, Englewood Cliffs, Garfield City, Hackettstown, Hazlet, Hoboken, Howell, Little Silver, Middlesex, Monroe (Gloucester), Neptune City, Newton, Oceanport, Spring Lake, Waldwick, and Woodbridge — 75% of them were not in compliance with one or more of the attorney general’s mandates or best practices.
According to the state comptroller’s report, 32 police departments “had improper warnings about the legal consequences of false reporting,” eight departments “improperly required a sworn statement online to initiate a complaint,” and police departments in 27 municipalities “used non-standardized report forms that failed to notify the complainant that personal identifying information is optional,” police departments; in 26 of them, people were improperly “asked for more detailed information, such as social security numbers.”
Given that most police departments we surveyed were non-compliant, we urge every police department in New Jersey to proactively assess their compliance with the IAPP,” stated Walsh.