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Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
Office of the Attorney General
John J. Farmer, Jr., Attorney General
Attorney General Releases Statewide Data on State Police Traffic Enforcement Actions and Trooper Conduct
TRENTON — Attorney General John J. Farmer, Jr. and Col. Carson J. Dunbar, Jr., superintendent of the State Police, today released the first statewide report on State Police traffic enforcement activities and misconduct investigations.
The report provides aggregate statistics from the five State Police Troops (A -North, B - South, C - Central, D - New Jersey Turnpike and E - Garden State Parkway), broken down by stations and other units, for the first four months of the year. Included in the data for each troop, station and unit are the number of motor vehicle stops and enforcement actions (summonses, warnings, summonses/warnings, and arrests by several categories, including driving under the influence). In addition, total criminal arrests by troops, stations and units are also included. These data are reported by race and ethnicity. The report also contains statistics on reports of trooper misconduct initiated both by the public and within State Police. The report is the first of what will be semi-annual releases required under the Consent Decree entered into in December with the U.S. Department of Justice.
"The release of this data is part and parcel of our ongoing reforms at State Police," Farmer said. "We are encouraged by the progress we have made to date and committed to continuing to develop technological and other means to provide accountability and enable the State Police to maintain the public's trust.
"More than a year ago, we proposed in the Interim Report of the State Police Review Team that we release aggregate statistics regarding State Police activities," Farmer said. "The Consent Decree endorsed and formalized that process, in requiring semiannual release of data.
"We have come a long way since last year when statistics had to be collected manually," Farmer said. "This may be among the most comprehensive set of patrol-related statistics released by any statewide police agency.
"Still, it is too early in the process to draw conclusions from the data," he said. "First of all, that's because we are just in the initial stages of what will be a long-term process of reform. And, secondly, we are continuing to improve our ability and our technological capacity to capture data."
The Attorney General said that the stop-related statistics (stops, summonses, warnings, summonses/warnings) were generated from the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, in which troopers call in information to a centralized dispatcher who inputs data into the system almost instantaneously. Farmer said the CAD system enables the state to record data on each motor vehicle stop and to ensure the validity of the information, and that this accurate information protects both the public and the trooper.
The arrest information in the report comes from Uniform Crime Report data collected by State Police. This is the same information used to compile the annual Crime in New Jersey report. There is a lag time between the time these data are received and collated. This accounts for the fact that only data for the first four months of this year are being released, Farmer said. "
As a complement to the public release of data, we also proposed in the Interim Report to institute a computer system to cross-check multiple sources of information on individual trooper activities,"Farmer said. "The continuing computerization of State Police represents a significant part of the reforms called for in the Interim Report and now the Consent Decree. This will improve accountability of the State Police — from the trooper to the supervisor to division management."
While the racial and ethnic breakdown of stops and arrests for each station are available for the first time on a statewide basis, The Attorney General said that all the information required under the Consent Decree will not be available until the next semi-annual report. For example, the CAD system is not yet fully operational for the Parkway (Troop E).
Assistant Attorney General Martin Cronin, director of State Police Affairs for the Office of the Attorney General, said that by the next report, aggregate information will be reported regarding procedures related to stops, such as use of force information, contraband seized, and requests for consent to search. In addition, information as to the reasons for the stop, whether moving or non-moving violation, whether summonses were issued for moving or non-moving violations and a more accurate count of summonses and warnings also will be available.
Cronin noted that the number of summonses and warnings is undercounted in the current report. He said, if an arrest occurs, a summons will usually also be issued, but currently only the arrest is reported. Similarly, multiple summonses or warnings that are given together are only counted one time for each stop.
He further noted that the numbers released today cover all 28 State Police road stations spread across the state and more than 100 other units. The enforcement activities covered by these stations and units range from primary responsibility for patrolling toll roads and Interstate highways to patrolling the most rural sections of New Jersey.
Trooper Conduct Information
According to Col. Dunbar, during the first four months of 2000, State Police's Office of Professional Standards initiated and responded to 146 internal and external inquiries regarding trooper conduct. The majority of reports filed by members of the public focused on complaints regarding differential treatment, failure to perform duties and attitude and demeanor. By comparison, he said, during all of 1999, the State Police received and initiated 353 investigations of trooper conduct. He noted that the number of citizen complaints received and initiated in the first four months of this year increased from the comparative period in 1999.
"Given State Police's commitment to fully investigate every legitimate complaint, the implementation of an extensive public information and awareness campaign, the implementation of easy-to-read and understand complaints forms in English and Spanish and the wholesale restructuring of the State Police internal affairs investigative process, the increase in complaints was not unexpected," Dunbar said. "We are getting the message out and the public is responding. The ultimate result will be increased public confidence in the State Police.
"Both the public and state police themselves have legitimate expectations when it comes to the conduct of internal affairs matters. In moving to re-organize, streamline and improve accountability of internal affairs matters, the State Police is working to ensure that citizen reports of police misconduct are thoroughly, objectively, and expeditiously investigated to their logical conclusion and that the investigations be conducted in a manner which protects, and not violates, the rights of accused troopers," Dunbar said.
On Jan. 29, Col. Dunbar authorized the creation of the Office of Professional Standards (formerly the Internal Affairs Bureau). The office reports directly to the Superintendent. This restructuring incorporates significant changes in the way internal affairs matters are handled -- from the filing of complaints by members of the public, to increased staffing of the Internal Investigation Unit and the Administrative Internal Proceedings Unit, to the way investigations are managed, to the public accountability of the internal affairs process.
Dunbar pointed to other actions taken to assure the public that complaints are welcome and that they will be investigated, including