Report finds lots of problems with training at NJ State Police
TRENTON – The New Jersey State Police aren’t adhering fully to a consent decree on racial profiling in the ways it trains recruits and current troopers, according to a report by the state comptroller.
In the comptroller’s eighth periodic review of the state police, oversight that is required as part of the dissolution of a federal monitor, investigators cited problems with the way instructors were selected and differences between the training and the curriculum for the most recent policy for using force.
“This report and others I’ve issued show the New Jersey State Police can do more to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the consent decree and to ensure constitutional policing,” said acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh.
“Effective training of troopers by dedicated instructors committed to this mission – by setting the right tone, discouraging racial profiling, and ensuring policies involving use of force are followed – is critical,” Walsh said.
The review found:
- Instructors eliminating entire segments from courses and reducing a seven-hour course mandated by the Attorney General’s Office to two hours.
- Temporary or "detached" instructors, who account for around 20% of the training staff, aren’t vetted as rigorously as permanent ones, which is at odds with the consent decree. Some “appeared to show a lack of interest in teaching.”
- Twelve of 59 were subject to disciplinary investigations and four to discrimination investigations. They included one who was being investigated for sexual harassment and using their position to intimidate or gain favor, and one was being investigated for racial profiling and harassment.
- Troopers with questionable disciplinary histories – including those suspended for driving while intoxicated, assault, and falsifying reports – were selected to be trooper coaches.
Among the 131 coaches with disciplinary histories included suspensions for domestic violence, DWI, failing to take appropriate police action, falsifying records, theft and inappropriate actions toward another trooper.
- Most lesson plans are updated every year or two, but some were delayed seven and 14 years.
- Some troopers aren’t getting the rank-specific training they are required to complete when getting promoted. Fifteen percent of troopers with a rank of sergeant or above hadn’t gotten the necessary training, which optimally should happen six months before the promotion.
The report recommends 11 changes be made.
The State Police had no comment on the report, and the Office of the Attorney General told NJ Advance Media it planned to work on implementing the suggestions.
The comptroller’s report said that it revisited recommendations it made in its fourth periodic review that were similarly related to training and found that two were implemented but two were not.
Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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