STATE — An Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) review released today found the New Jersey State Police is continuing to effectively handle allegations of trooper misconduct. The OSC review also identified a number of steps that can be taken to further improve state practices in this area, such as ensuring that the prosecution of trooper discipline cases and the impartial monitoring of those cases are not handled by the same office.
Under state law, OSC is required to periodically review the performance of the State Police and its efforts to prevent racial and other forms of discrimination in its policies, practices and procedures. This is the second such OSC review.
The 23-page report specifically evaluated the State Police’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS), which is responsible for investigating allegations of trooper misconduct and making recommendations concerning trooper discipline. The OSC review also evaluated the state’s Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards (OLEPS) with regard to its oversight of the trooper disciplinary process.
Overall, OSC found that both offices are effectively performing their respective duties with regard to the internal affairs and disciplinary processes. OSC’s review focused on the three OPS units in charge of receiving, investigating and resolving complaints of trooper misconduct. It found all three units have acted in accordance with law enforcement professionalism standards and guidelines.
Specifically, OSC found: the State Police’s process for receiving complaints of trooper misconduct has been appropriately designed and administered; evidence supported the findings and conclusions of each of the misconduct investigations selected by OSC for review; and relevant factors such as the nature and scope of the misconduct are being appropriately considered before trooper discipline is imposed.
“Our review found that in their handling of trooper misconduct cases, the State Police continue to comply with professional standards designed to eliminate racial profiling,” State Comptroller Matthew Boxer said.
OSC also found, however, areas in need of improvement and set forth nine specific recommendations to address those issues. For example, OSC recommends that the State Police consider adopting disciplinary guidelines to help ensure that the discipline being imposed on troopers who engage in misconduct is consistent, fair and transparent.
The OSC review further noted that OLEPS attorneys assist in the prosecution of trooper misconduct cases while OLEPS simultaneously acts, as required by state law, as the impartial monitor of the final discipline imposed on troopers. In order to better ensure impartiality, the review recommends that the responsibility for prosecuting trooper disciplinary cases be transferred to other attorneys in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
OSC’s previous State Police review focused on the State Police Training Bureau and the state’s transition away from federal monitoring of State Police practices. Subsequent reviews will focus on other, related areas as set forth in state law.