🔴 NJ police departments must follow state rules for letting the public report misconduct online

🔴 A report said many police departments failed to update their websites

🔴 Only five departments were in full compliance

An overwhelming majority of police departments in New Jersey failed to meet state requirements for encouraging the public to report police misconduct, according to a new report released by the state comptroller.

The report focused on a mandate handed down by the Attorney General's Office in 2019 that updated policies for how police departments must handle internal affairs reports. Specifically, the state required the departments to update their websites to include certain forms and remove warnings that submitting a false report could have legal consequences.

Released on Wednesday, the report states the OSC reviewed 100 websites for municipal police departments throughout the state. It found 80% of the departments surveyed did not meet a basic requirement to have a link to a form on their websites The form is available in 11 languages. Dozens of others were non-compliant in other ways.

(Office of the State Comptroller)
(Office of the State Comptroller)

The OSC notified all 100 departments of the results, and over half responded to say they would update their websites. Acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh called on non-compliant departments to proactively make the changes.

“The website is, in effect, the front door. The public needs to be assured that the door is open to them if they want to file a complaint," Walsh said.

Another finding from the report was that 32 departments, or nearly a third of the reviewed agencies, improperly had warnings stating that false reports could result in criminal charges. The OSC said these warnings could deter legitimate complaints.

Kevin Walsh quote
(Office of State Comptroller)

Eight more departments required a complainant to sign a sworn statement to submit a report of police misconduct, which is not in line with the OAG mandate.

And more than a fourth of the reviewed departments, 27, had the wrong forms on their websites. These forms failed to mention that it is optional for a person making a complaint to provide their personal information. All but one of those 27 departments asked for more information including social security numbers.

Of the reviewed departments, only the Hoboken, Neptune City, Oceanport, Monroe, and Spring Lake police were in full compliance.

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to the OAG for comment.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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