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May 19, 10

NEWS / First In-House Monitoring Report on State Police Practices Finds Continued Compliance with Federal B

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow announced today that a new monitoring report on State Police enforcement activities issued by the state’s own Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards (OLEPS) documents continued compliance with federal benchmarks set under a 1999 federal Consent Decree that has since been dissolved.

Among other things the report – the first in-house monitoring report on State Police issued since dissolution of the Consent Decree in 2009 – is based on an analysis of data from hundreds of motor vehicle stops in 2008, and a review by OLEPS staffers of nearly 300 videotapes of such stops.

The OLEPS also conducted audits of the State Police internal affairs and training functions to determine if they met the standards of the Consent Decree. In addition, OLEPS evaluated the efforts of State Police management in supervising the activities of subordinate troopers through the system known as MAPPS (Management Awareness Personnel Performance System), as well as other mechanisms. The report covers the period of January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008, a time during which State Police remained subject to federal oversight.

“This report demonstrates that, as an organization, the State Police continues to embrace historic change and serve as a national model in such areas as training, supervision and trooper accountability,” said Attorney General Dow. “However, despite the fact that State Police efforts to address the issue of profiling have been recognized as successful, we are duty-bound to remain vigilant. We have a statutory responsibility to ensure that, going forward, the same ‘best practices’ that got us to this point are adhered to every day, and that our high standards for trooper performance, as well as trooper supervision, are never compromised.”

The 1999 Consent Decree, which the State entered into along with the U.S. Justice Department, followed an investigation into the profiling of minority drivers on New Jersey’s highways. On September 21, 2009, after a decade of federal monitoring, U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper granted motions from both parties and dissolved the Consent Decree.

However, a state Advisory Committee on Police Standards that conducted an independent review of State Police practices recommended the reforms adopted by State Police be codified in legislation. That was done through passage of the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act of 2009. Signed into law in August 2009, the legislation not only codifies reforms implemented by State Police to end racial profiling, it mandates continued State oversight and monitoring – the role previously performed by federal monitors -- by an office under the Attorney General’s purview. That office is the OLEPS.

Highlights of the first OLEPS monitoring report include:

* Significant progress has been made in the area of identifying Trooper training issues that arise out of day-to-day activities, developing training programs to address those issues, and measuring the ultimate effectiveness of the programs.
* The OLEPS monitors noted fewer issues or problems with regard to the “reasonable suspicion” articulated by Troopers in support of their requests for consent to search vehicles. This was attributed to effective training in a 2007 in-service that responded to issues raised in prior federal monitoring reports.
* State Police supervisors who reviewed hundreds of motor vehicle stops in 2008 failed to identify Trooper errors in less than six percent of the incidents, for better than a 94 percent compliance rate, satisfying the established benchmark for the process.
* Malfunctions attributable to sound or video problems with the on-board recording equipment in State Police patrol cars are increasing, and were found in 15 percent of the car stop tapes reviewed by OLEPS. While the report identifies this as a potential concern, it also notes that patrol cars are to be outfitted with new, digital recording technology starting in 2010.
* The State Police Office of Professional Standards (formerly Internal Affairs) has developed and implemented an “Incident Reduction Initiative,” which was not required by the Consent Decree, but is consistent with it. The Initiative seeks to reduce the number of motorist complaints through an aggressive program of data collection and analysis that will allow the State Police Office of Professional Standards (internal affairs) to proactively address the needs of Troopers whose actions suggest a need for refresher training or other corrective measures.


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