Report Finds State Police Complied With Federal Benchmarks

TRENTON – A new monitoring report on State Police enforcement activities issued by New Jersey’s own Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards (OLEPS) documents continued compliance with federal benchmarks set under a 1999 federal Consent Decree that has since been dissolved, Attorney General Paula T. Dow announced today.

Among other things, the report – the second in-house monitoring report on State Police issued since dissolution of the Consent Decree in 2009 – is based on an analysis of data from hundreds of motor vehicle stops, and a review by OLEPS staffers of more than 400 videotapes of such stops.

OLEPS also conducted audits of the State Police internal affairs and training functions to determine if they met the standards of the Consent Decree. In addition, OLEPS evaluated the efforts of State Police management in supervising the activities of subordinate troopers through the system known as MAPPS (Management Awareness Personnel Performance System), as well as other mechanisms.

The report covers the period of Jan. 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009, prior to dissolution of the Consent Decree.

“This report shows that the State Police continues to function as a model law enforcement agency – one that demonstrates strength in all facets of the ‘traditional’ policing mission while adapting well to social change, and to changing legal principles, ” said Dow.

“However,” Dow added, “despite the continued progress observed throughout this report, we are committed to remaining vigilant, and to ensuring that the ‘best practices’ that got State Police to this point are adhered to every day.”

The 1999 Consent Decree, which the state entered into along with the U.S. Justice Department, followed an investigation into the profiling of minority drivers on New Jersey’s highways. On Sept. 21, 2009, after a decade of federal monitoring, U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper granted motions from both parties and dissolved the Consent Decree. However, a state Advisory Committee on Police Standards that conducted an independent review of State Police practices recommended the reforms adopted by State Police be codified in legislation. That was done through passage of the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act of 2009.

Signed into law in August 2009, the legislation not only codifies reforms implemented by State Police to end racial profiling, it mandates continued state oversight and monitoring – the role previously performed by federal monitors — by an office under the Attorney General’s purview. That office is OLEPS.

Findings of the Second Monitoring Report include:

· State Police remain in compliance with all Consent Decree requirements applicable to the training function for the reporting period. Specifically, the State Police Training Academy’s “ability to provide effective and meaningful training continues to evolve and improve.” Particular note is made in the report of the Academy’s capability in providing effective updates for Troopers on current case law and other emerging issues.

· The total of 405 consent-to-search requests made by Troopers during the monitoring period is more than triple the highest number of requests reported in any prior six-month reporting period. The previous high number of consent-to-search requests was 134, which was recorded during the 16th reporting period, when the Consent Decree was still in place. The increase in consent-to-search requests is directly related to the state Supreme Court’s February 2009 decision in State v. Pena-Flores. Essentially, the decision requires that police obtain a search warrant or ask for consent-to-search a vehicle in cases where probable cause exists.

· While the State Police remains in compliance with all tasks for the reporting period, the number of errors during motor vehicle stops that went undetected by supervisors resulted in an overall uncaught error rate of 12.8 percent. The error rate resulted in a warning to State Police for several tasks, or portions of tasks, related to supervision.

· State Police continue to move toward more digital recording of motor vehicle stops, with the ultimate objective being to record all stops using digital technology. Currently, most stops are recorded using audio and video tape and, during the reporting period covered by the second OLEPS report, 49 stops were identified as having problems with the audio recording, video recording, or both. The problems are likely the result of aging equipment.

· Overall, MAPPS (the Management Awareness Personnel Performance System) continues to contain all information and capabilities required by the Consent Decree, resulting in full compliance for the reporting period. The MAPPS system can be used for analysis of many aspects of the State Police, including trooper and supervisory performance.

Dow also announced today the release of the Third and Fourth Public Reports of Aggregate Data on State Police activity by OLEPS.

The third aggregate data report covers the six-month period from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2010. The fourth aggregate data report covers the six-month period from July 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010.

All three OLEPS reports — the Second In-House Monitoring Report on State Police and the Third and Fourth Public Reports of Aggregate Data — are available by visiting the OLEPS Web page at .

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