ACLU Finds Problems With Internal Affairs Complaints
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. February 12, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union says there are problems in the way many police agencies in New Jersey respond to citizens who want to file complaints about officers.
ACLU policy counsel Alexander Shalom says more than three-quarters of the police departments in the state could not provide basic information or gave wrong answers to citizens who called about filing an internal affairs complaint.
“We were being told that juveniles needed to come in with their parents, that they couldn’t assure undocumented immigrants that immigration authorities wouldn’t be notified, that anonymous complaints couldn’t be received because they couldn’t be verified, that third party complaints were impermissible.”
Shalom says not dealing with those complaints properly can undermine citizens’ trust of the police.
Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says a quick reference guide has been developed to help law enforcement respond to the internal affairs complaints.
“We’ve created a simplified form that will be available to all the people that received these calls which is going to familiarize them with it. It’s available to them right at their desks so we don’t have the confusion that goes on. A lot of places have done a great job. There’s some places where we need to do a better job and that’s why we put this process in place.”
The ACLU says that sends a powerful message that the Attorney General is taking the problem seriously and wants police to comply with the law.