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Police and Law Enforcement Home    >    Editorials    >    Moving Internal Affairs Function to Attorney General's Office a Bad Idea


Police and
Law Enforcement News




Moving Internal Affairs Function to Attorney
General's Office a Bad Idea
Police and Law Enforcement News
Tuesday, January 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.

The 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:

With 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.

The 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

There are 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.

What do you think?  To leave a comment, use the message box below.









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