Following a racially-charged incident between two Bridgewater police officers and a pair of teenagers – one Black and one white – acting Attorney General Matt Platkin on Friday took the step of issuing a formal reminder to county prosecutors and senior law enforcement officials reminding them of a June 2005 directive that prohibits “racially-influenced policy.”
“The Directive prohibits sworn officers and civilian employees of law enforcement agencies in the State of New Jersey from considering a person’s race or ethnicity as a factor in drawing an inference or conclusion that the person may be involved in criminal activity or as a factor in exercising police discretion as to how to stop or otherwise treat the person,” Platkin said in his memorandum, obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
The action by Platkin, which comes in his fifth day as acting attorney general, comes after a video of police officers breaking up a fight between the two teenagers made national news.
The police officers are seen in the video grabbing the white teen off of the Black teen, then putting the white teen on a couch at the Bridgewater Commons mall while the Black teen was tackled and handcuffed. Despite no apparent resistance, a woman police officer is seen with her knee on the back of the Black teen.
Platkin reminded law enforcement agencies that the directive remains in effect and ordered anyone not currently in compliance must do so.
Gov. Phil Murphy said this week that the event, which showed the teenagers receiving “disparate treatment” based on race to be “deeply, deeply disturbing.”
“New Jersey has long been a national leader in policing. We must continually pursue a higher degree of excellence in our law enforcement profession,” Platkin wrote. “Preventing racially-influenced policing not only ensures that every resident is treated with dignity, but also encourages cooperation with and support for law enforcement.