New Jersey is not properly tracking incidents of police force, bad policies and abusive officers, according to a new investigation by NJ Advance Media. The 16-month investigation resulted in “The Force Report,” which was published on NJ.com in June.
Even though state officials announced plans for a centralized police force tracking system almost 20 years ago, there is still no statewide tracking system in place. In addition, police departments undergo little state oversight and have been issued no standard practices to follow. In an attempt to obtain accurate data on police force incidents, researchers filed 506 public records requests and received reports on over 72,500 use-of-force incidents involving officers from all New Jersey municipal police departments and the State Police between 2012 and 2016.
The report found that 10% of law enforcement officers were involved in 38% of all use-of-force incidents and 252 officers were involved in five times the state average for use-of-force incidents. It also found that nearly 9,300 people suffered injuries in encounters with police over the five-year review period. Of those injuries, 4,382 required treatment at a hospital. During each year of the review period, a minimum of 156 officers injured someone seriously enough to require his or her hospitalization. In addition, the report found that black individuals were three times more likely to be subjected to police force than white individuals. Also, black individuals living in Millville experienced six times the rate of police force incidents of white individuals. Those living in South Orange experienced 10 times the rate of white individuals. The report also found the state’s system of officer self-reporting was chaotic, incomplete and sometimes illegible.
Individuals who believe they have suffered civil rights violations at the hands of law enforcement officers may wish to speak to an attorney about their legal options. Legal counsel might carefully review the incident and outline all possible legal remedies.