Got a Complaint? Hillsborough Cops Can Tell You What to Do
ACLU study finds many local police don't know the rules for residents to file complaints against them—but Hillsborough's police did.
- February 12, 2013
While the system for citizens to file complaints against police "is riddled with problems," according to a report on WNYC.org, a test of whether or not local police know the procedures for making complaints found Hillsborough officers able to provide the information.
State law protects residents who make complaints over police behavior and allows for complaints to be made anonymously. New Jersey Public Radio and the ACLU found that many local police officers apparently do not know the rules for residents to file complaints, according to the report.
The ACLU called 497 police departments in New Jersey and asked officers questions about filing complaints. More than half the departments answered at least one question incorrectly, according to the report. 51 departments did not get a single question right. Hillsborough was one of just four departments in Somerset County which provided correct information, according to the study (A list of departments whose officers answered everything correctly is available online here).
Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said his office would begin distributing copies of the rules to police departments around the state, according to the report.
A widget included in the WNYC.org report — and embedded above — allows readers to search for complaint sheets by police department.
These same records are sent to Chiesa's office, but do not give enough information, according to the report. The numbers lack context — such as if numerous incidents involve the same officer — making it hard to notice patterns.
Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that more detailed records are needed to improve practices, according to the report.
The records show a total of 35 complaints made regarding Hillsborough police, however, all but six of the complaints were found to be either not sustained, unfounded or investigators exonerated police. Of the six, five were only identified as "other rule violations," and were not complaints of excessive force, improper arrests, entry or searches, differential treatment or of a criminal nature.