NJ investigating cop trainers after appearance by Fox News pundit
TRENTON – An appeals court has rebuffed a bid by a company that trains police officers to quash a subpoena from the state comptroller, related to an Atlantic City conference that featured a Fox News political commentator.
East Windsor-based New Jersey Criminal Interdiction, which does business as Street Cop Training, provides training to up to 30,000 police officers a year, including several thousand from New Jersey.
Street Cop says it improperly got on the comptroller’s radar “based on politics” because of negative media coverage of a training conference for about 1,000 people it held in October 2021 at Harrah’s Casino. The guest speakers included Tomi Lahren, a Fox News commentator, and police reform efforts were criticized at the conference.
Nearly eight months later, Street Cop got a request for documents from the comptroller’s office, including invoices and receipts, a list of police officers who attended the conference, unedited digital and video copies of the seminars and more.
Street Cop says the comptroller’s year-old Police Accountability Project goes beyond that office’s statutory power and authority and refused to provide the requested documents.
However, a Superior Court judge and now an appeals court ruled against the company.
“The mission statement of the OSC — to subject governmental financial activities to uniform, meaningful, and systematic public scrutiny — and the purpose of the Police Accountability Project — detecting waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in law enforcement — provides an investigative purpose that authorizes an OSC subpoena,” the appeals court said.
“Street Cop's arguments are meritless because, as the judge intimated in his order, police departments have always been subject to investigations and audits in accordance with OSC's enabling legislation,” the court said.
The conference cost $499 to attend. Generally, those costs are covered by the law enforcement agency that employs the officers.
Any public entity or private vendor that receives funds from the state or local government must provide prompt access to information to the comptroller’s office, under state law.