There are 937 active police internal affairs investigations in Hudson County, according to a database compiled by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office released today.
The searchable dashboard is capable of filtering data by law enforcement agency, the types of allegations involved, and what, if any, disciplinary action was taken for closed cases, Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced.
The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA) believes the dashboard will serve as a tool for both law enforcement and the public, revealing the prevalence of various accusations, where they are surfacing, and how they are being dealt with by the internal affairs review process.
The Office of Justice Data aggregated a tremendous amount of information to give New Jerseyans insight into internal affairs cases that no other state provides,” Platkin said in a statement.
“Now for the first time in state history, the public will be able to see, all in one location, the allegations and disciplinary action taken in internal affairs cases across New Jersey.”
In Hudson County, Jersey City, which has just under 1,000 police officers, has the most active complaints since last year, with 273 active investigations involving 232 officers and 176 incidents.
Just under 51 percent of these are filed under “other rule violation,” with 16.1 percent identified as “other criminal violation” and 12.8 percent as “demeanor.”
Additionally, 54.2 of these complaints were violated by civilians, compared to 44.3 percent by the agency. 1.5 percent were also filed anonymously.
Out of the 14 local law enforcement agencies, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office had the least number of active IA investigations with just 13: 76.9 filed under “other rule violation” and 23.1 percent as “other criminal violation.”
The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Department of Corrections, Bayonne Guttenberg, Harrison, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, Weehawken, and West New York Police Departments all have under 100 active investigations (ranging from five for Harrison PD and 95 for the Bayonne PD).
Finally, the Hoboken Police Department has 188 active investigations, according to the database, with 80.9 percent defined as an “other rule violation” and 71.8 percent of complaints being filed by the department.
In other words, their internal affairs command structure was proactive in most cases.
“Our state’s new dashboard testifies to the profound understanding of our law enforcement officers that such trust is forged by meaningful actions that reflect the crucial importance of this profession,” added Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
“Every effort to improve accountability among our esteemed law enforcement officers today will help better protect our community members tomorrow.”
Richard Rivera, the co-founder of the National Coalition of Latino Officers and a longtime police transparency advocate, also praised the state initiative.
“This creates additional dialogue on how police police themselves. For too long women and minority officers in New Jersey have claimed disparate or discriminatory practices by internal affairs,” he added in his own statement.
“Now we get to see the outcome and compare officers in the same department. The portal forces police chiefs and county prosecutors to do a better job of understanding complaint trends and community needs.”
Editor’s note: This reporter and Richard Rivera both appeared in the first episode of Vice’s “Betraying the Badge” series last year.