Moving Internal Affairs Function to Attorney
General's Office a Bad Idea
Police and Law Enforcement News
8, 2013 10:47 a.m.
A bill which is
expected to be introduced later this month would transfer all internal
affairs functions from local law enforcement agencies to a unit that
would be created within the Attorney General's Office.
bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Peter Barnes
III (D-Middlesex), admits that his motivation for introducing the bill
was the recent news coverage by the Star Ledger of reported controversy
within the Edison Police Department, but says such legislation is
needed. He released a statement on his website:
literally hundreds of law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, ranging in
size from just a few officers up to several hundred, there is no uniform
internal control. Transferring oversight will ensure that allegations
of police misconduct will be investigated promptly and fairly.
The exact verbiage of the bill has not been released.
When you put aside everything else, the whole law enforcement thing
works because of an agreement: You trust us to police you, and we agree
to be trustworthy.
When one of these - on either end - fails, our system fails.
This is why it is so incredibly important that we hold up our end of the
agreement and have a system in place to rid our ranks of those who
malign this most noble profession.
New Jersey Attorney General Policy on Internal Affairs and Procedures
was established in 1991 and governs just about everything having to do
with the internal affairs process.
The vast majority of officers accept the policy and the internal affairs
function and recognize its importance and necessity. No one wants to
work with a crooked cop or be part of an agency known for sloppiness or
its personnel being undisciplined or rude.
Line officers understand that if they are unnecessarily discourteous to
the public they are going to take a letter. IA officers understand that
they have to put their names on cases they seek to close out and that
these cases will be reviewed by higher command staff and, perhaps,
outside agencies. They will have to defend their conclusions and
ultimate decision. This doesn't leave much room for fudging.
Other considerations would be the size and cost of this operation. It
would be massive. To provide internal affairs coverage for New Jersey's
500-plus law enforcement agencies, they would have to hire a small army,
provide vehicles and fuel for driving all over the state, and, of
course, facilities from which to run this operation.
Chief Raymond Hayducka, president of the New Jersey State Association of
Chiefs of Police, questioned the logistics of such a move. He told the
Star Ledger, "I understand the concept of it, but logistically, I donít
see how the Attorney Generalís Office could hire that many people."
The state office of the PBA was skeptical as well. PBA Spokesman James
Ryan offered this in a statement to NJLawman.com:
currently 542 law enforcement agencies in the State, each having their
own set of policy and procedures. There are 35,236 sworn officers spread
out over these municipal, county, and state agencies. To turn all
internal affairs functions over to one agency is a monumental task.
There is absolutely no evidence of widespread corruption or
noncompliance with state internal affairs policies.
If there are indications that an agency is not properly administering
their responsibilities under the internal affairs policy, the agency can
be dealt with by the county prosecutor's office or the Attorney
General's Office where applicable.
To impose such drastic and sweeping change over the whole state is just
unnecessary. It's over governing.
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