Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Newark’s New Internal Affairs Policy Regarding Stop-and Frisk Interaction is Only a Start in Reforming the Police Department’s Inept Internal Affairs Unit

Although Newark’s Police Department will post on its website statistics (every 15th day of each month) regarding police initiated encounters with citizens, the new policy does not go far enough.  Under the proposed new rules the Police Department still refuses to post the names of the police officers.  The only way the police department can be transparent and the public knowing whether the internal affairs unit is finally do its job is for the department to post the names of each officer engaged in the encounter.  This is the only way for the public to know whether there is a pattern of unconstitutional random profiling without reasonable suspicion or probable cause by errant officers.

Under the new policy (General Order No. 2013-03) the Newark Police Department has agreed to require that its officers document every stop-and-frisk interaction and to report statistics monthly on its police web site.

The data is to be maintained by the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), which monitors officers' behavior, conducts audits and investigates complaints, officer firearm discharges, vehicle pursuits and corruption allegations.

The data include:

• The stop's date, time and location.
• The reason for the stop.
• Whether the subject was patted down and what the legal justification for the frisk was.
• Whether the subject was searched (more intrusive than a frisk), the scope of the search and why it occurred.
• The subject's apparent race, gender an age (though officers are prohibited from asking for this information in most cases).
• Whether the stop resulted in a warning, summons or arrest, and what the charges were.
• Whether force was used, and how.
• Names and badge numbers for all involved officers, from any jurisdiction.

Finally, the raw data is to be broken down by date; police unit; reason for the stop; number of stops that yielded contraband; and race, gender, age and English proficiency of the subject.  In addition, the department must note whether an interpreter was provided, to measure the impact of stop-and-frisk practices on immigrant communities.

In the final analysis in order for this new policy to bring any real change, the police department must have the honesty and integrity to use the data to root out corrupt and errant police officers in its department with the following steps. 

First, Newark’s police department must make a real effort to insure that the internal affairs’ unit actually uses the data to root out errant officers, which to date has not been the case.  In the past the internal affairs unit had similar data, but whitewashed it by covering up the actions of known errant and corrupt police officers. 

Second, the officers making these encounters must accurately and honestly report the data after each encounter.  As it stands now there is nothing in the new order which makes it unlawful or against department policy for failing to accurately obtain this information by the police officers on the street.

If any of the foregoing is not followed, this new policy is nothing more than another P.R. moment and publicity stunt by Cory Booker.  

This blog has been provided as a public service by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.,

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