NJ State Police
Under Siege, Again
Police and Law Enforcement News
22, 2013 9:41 p.m.
The crusade of the Newark Star Ledger to excoriate New
Jersey law enforcement continued late last month with a double hatchet
job on the New Jersey State Police.
The first of the two Sunday pieces (Dec. 30, 2012) was
titled, "N.J. State
Police Still Plagued by Missteps Despite Improvements."
It was your basic passive-aggressive article complete
with interviews of the usual anti-State Police suspects. The negative
headline kept its promise as most of the article contained critical
observations while resurrecting just about every blemish the NJSP
suffered in 2012.
A section labeled, "Record of Achievement" talked about
some of the agency's accomplishments which was nice, but it didn't
remove the bad taste left in your mouth from the remainder of the piece.
What we found unusual, though, was that a second piece
about, relatively, the same topic, written by the same reporter came out
the same day.
N.J. State Police in the Headlines in 2012" (Dec. 30, 2012), this
piece was basically a Sports Center Top 10 of the plays of the year.
The only problem was it wasn't about the NJSP's 2012 top
headlines. The article was entirely made up of negative stories. Every
act of heroism, philanthropy, and selflessness was omitted.
And, of course, the legions of anti-cop commenters were
in waiting and erupted in all their glory to lend us their opinions and
expertise on law enforcement and what should be done with the New Jersey
Neither of the articles indicated that any attempt was
made to get a comment from the rank and file by contacting the STFA or
NCO Association, the fraternal organizations which represent the men and
women of the State Police. It would have been nice to give them a chance
This is our media today.
Many of the papers have all but eliminated local news and
replaced it with important journalism like the scourge of teachers,
retired firefighters who get health benefits, and the annual salary of
the police officer who pulls a woman from a burning car.
Feeding the frenzy against public employees has sold
papers, so they're going to keep it going for as long as they can.
Accurate coverage of corruption, misconduct, and even our
mistakes is expected, even demanded. It is what the press is
about. It is what they do.
But, somewhere along the line it became just about
selling papers and increasing website visits, even if it is at the
expense of their craft.
Now, they print year-in-review pieces on the State Police
but are careful not to include the locating of missing children, taking
of machine guns off the street, or the closing down of illicit drug
operations, all true stories readily available on the State
NJSP, your hands aren't exactly clean here either. You've
been under siege for years now. You need to do a better job fighting
back. You are one of the most respected organizations in the country,
but you will lose that standing if you don't start defending it.
So, where are we?
If you are a critic of the State Police, you will be
contacted for comment for negative articles about their performance.
If you are a representative of the State Police rank and
file, you will not.
And if you are a newspaper doing a year-in-review story,
you review only the bad events of the year.
What we - the law enforcement community - have to take
from this story is this: we need to do better.
We need to publicize our accomplishments more, and if
papers like the Star Ledger or The Record (our other favorite) aren't
printing them, we go to the smaller weekly's which would welcome the
attention and access.
Unfortunately, there will always be bad apples in every
segment of our society. Much to our dismay, police departments are no
different. If you follow any twenty-officer agency around long enough,
you will come up with something. The same principle applies to the New
Jersey State Police, an agency with approximately 3,000 members.
In 2012, there were accountants that embezzled, reporters
that plagiarized, and politicians that lied. Those individual acts
shouldn't take away from the great work performed by the majority.
To take only negative stories out of an organization
employing 3,000 - who each have dozens of interactions with the public
each day - and call those stories "State Police in the Headlines in
2012" is so incredibly misleading. It is shameful.
So, feel good about yourself Star Ledger while you can.
Hopefully, a boss somewhere gets the spine to give you the
three-sentence press release and the 30-minute interview to the Patch.
Then, maybe, the free shots will stop.