The system for citizens to file complaints against police "is riddled with problems," according to a report on WNYC.org.
State law protects residents who make complaints over police behavior and allows for complaints to be made anonymously. New Jersey Public Radio and the ACLU found that many local police officers apparently do not know the rules for residents to file complaints, according to the report.
The ACLU called 497 police departments in New Jersey and asked officers questions about filing complaints. More than half the departments answered at least one question incorrectly, according to the report. 51 departments did not get a single question right. A list of departments whose officers answered everything correctly is available online here.
Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said his office would begin distributing copies of the rules to police departments around the state, according to the report.
A widget included in the WNYC.org report — and embedded above — allows readers to search for complaint sheets by police department.
These same records are sent to Chiesa's office, but do not give enough information, according to the report. The numbers lack context — such as if numerous incidents involve the same officer — making it hard to notice patterns.
Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that more detailed records are needed to improve practices, according to the report.
As for local police filings on the state's Professional Standards Report, neither department reported any complaints received regarding such police conduct as use of excessive force, or improper arrests, searches or entries.
The reports include breakdowns on how complaints received were resolved; Watchung police resolved all but two of seven complaints favorably (a complaint of a rule violation and a demeanor complaint were sustained in the investigation). Green Brook police reported a single complaint—a rule violation complaint made by another agency—which was sustained.