TRENTON – Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper dissolved the federal consent decree that guided the operation of the New Jersey State Police for the last 10 years following the adoption of significant reforms in the management and training of State Police.
The consent decree, which went into effect after the State Police was charged with profiling minority drivers on the state’s highways, was dissolved on a joint motion by the state and the U.S. Justice Department.
Last month, Governor Jon S. Corzine signed into law the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act of 2009, which codifies the reforms implemented by the State Police to end racial profiling. The law mandates continued state oversight and monitoring of the State Police, creating an office within the Attorney General’s office that will continue the oversight role that had been performed by federal monitors under the consent decree.
“Significant reforms have been achieved by the State Police related to training, supervision and monitoring of road troopers,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said. “The State Police has worked hard to change its culture and was judged by federal monitors to be in full compliance with the consent decree and to be a model for law enforcement throughout the country.”
State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes said, “The court-ordered lifting of the federal consent decree represents a watershed moment for all of the more than four thousand members of the New Jersey State Police who have worked tirelessly to gain and maintain the public’s trust and confidence through transparency, sound managerial oversight and holding fast to the best practices of police professionalism and reform.”
Changes at the Division of State Police include new management, training and supervisory policies to carefully monitor road stops. Trooper cars have been outfitted with dashboard cameras, and the division intends to convert all cameras to a new digital system.
Two federal monitors had found the division to be in compliance with the consent decree for several years when Corzine appointed an advisory committee on police standards to conduct an independent review of State Police practices in 2006. The committee recommended that the substantial changes in operating procedures adopted by the State Police be permanently codified in legislation.
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