Police Accountability Project
The Police Accountability Project is a committee of the NJ Libertarian Party. Its goal is to search out cases of police misconduct, file former Internal Affairs (IA) complaints when appropriate, and to publicize violations of rules and laws by the police. There may be other stories posted on the NJLP Police Internal Affairs Complaint Blog page.
In response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, I received an August 19, 2009 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Township of Hillside (Union County) and former Hillside police officer Francisco (Frank) Utset. I've placed the MOA on-line here: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012067P2//UtsetMemo.pdf
According to the MOA, the Township was in the process of firing Officer Utset for "engaging in conduct unbecoming a public employee" on July 21, 2008. To that end, the Township had issued a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action and suspended Utset, with pay, effective July 21, 2008--the day after the alleged "unbecoming" incident.
The Police Accountability Project sent the following letter to the Phillipsburg (Warren County) Mayor and Council. My thought is that even though the Council may not really care if a drug arrestee's constitutional rights were violated by a local cop, the amount of money that the cop's mistake may have cost the taxpayers may impress them.
February 21, 2012
Hon. Harry L. Wyant, Mayor and members of the Phillipsburg Town Council
675 Corliss Avenue
Phillipsburg, NJ, 08865
Dear Mayor Wyant and Council members:
I'm not a resident, but ask that you please review today's Appellate Division decision in the case of State v. Kevin Davis. The decision is on-line here:
Thanks to CATO's Police Misconduct Reporting Project for pointing me to this story.
A jury on Wednesday awarded $150,000 in punitive damages to the family of a Ramapough Indian who was fatally shot by a state park ranger five years ago in Mahwah.
With a 7-0 vote, the panel found that former Park Police Officer Chad Walder’s actions were “malicious or wanton” when he drew his gun and shot Emil Mann on April 1, 2006, during a confrontation near Ringwood State Park over ATV riding near Stag Hill.
On May 23, 2011, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project filed an Internal Affairs complaint against an Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County) police officer who conducted a warrantless search of a motor vehicle. The complaint was filed after two-judge Appellate Division panel found that Officer Michael Bordanaro's search of a vehicle, which resulted in him finding a loaded 9 mm handgun, was illegal because there were no "exigent circumstances" excusing him from first getting a search warrant.
On September 29, 2011, Clinton attorney Walter M. Luers filed a lawsuit on my behalf against two Atlantic County municipalities and their police officials seeking disclosure of records pertaining to a curious traffic stop during the early morning hours of February 17, 2011. A copy of that lawsuit is on-line here. A November 10, 2011 Press of Atlantic City article was written about it.
Records I requested reveal that at 2:04 a.m., Northfield City Police observed a black Mercedes sitting at a traffic light while the light went through multiple rotations. Police initially reported that they had difficulty waking the driver and getting him to "open up" the car's door. There were also recorded conversations indicating that the driver was "A.O.B." (which, in police-speak, means "alcohol on breath.")
As a result of a request from the NJ Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project, the following has been published in the New Jersey Register:
NEW JERSEY REGISTER
Copyright © 2011 by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law
VOLUME 43, ISSUE 18
ISSUE DATE: SEPTEMBER 19, 2011
LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
43 N.J.R. 2535(a)
Notice of Receipt of Petition for Rulemaking
I was contacted about this incident by one of the brothers and I passed the information on to CopBlock.org. Ademo made this video. The NJ Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project is investigating this further.
Previously Seaside Heights settled a suit for a similar arrest.
Back in 2009 we reported on Officer Joseph Rios beating a homeless man for no apparent reason in Passaic.
Superior Court Judge Donald J. Volkert Jr. has acquitted Officer Rios of a police brutality charge. Now that he has been acquitted one may assume that he will receive back pay for the time he has been on leave.
UPDATE: The video I posted was just uploaded last week, however I just learned that this is incident occured in 2008. A more informative video from the ACLU of NJ can be seen here. The Officer, Brian Sharif, was suspended however he currently works as a special officer for the Newark government schools.
Following is the New Jersey Libertarian Party Police Accountability Project's open letter to the mayor and council of Merchantville Borough (Camden County).
At issue is: A motor vehicle stop and an arrest were made by Merchantville Police officers in another municipality and a judge found that no probable cause existed for the stop. The stopped and arrested
motorist sued the police and recovered an $11,000 settlement. Yet, the Mercantville Internal Affairs Unit found that the officers "followed the appropriate departmental policies and procedures."
On May 19, 2011, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project filed an Internal Affairs Complaint against State Trooper Scott Sanders. The complaint was based on a decision of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division in which a two judge panel found that Sanders conducted an improper, warrantless search of a motor vehicle.
The court's decision caused suppression of "five dime bags of high grade marijuana, approximately a half ounce of cocaine, seven bricks of heroin, and five sealed blunts containing tobacco." Because of evidence the suppressed, the conviction and the six year prison sentence against the driver was reversed.
Last week we reported on Maplewood Township enforcing a repealed ordinance against "public intoxication."
A letter concerning the matter was sent to the Essex County Trial Court Administrator. As a result of the letter, Mr. White's conviction has been reversed and his fines have been refunded.
The reply we received from the Trial Court Administrator can be viewed here.
In April 2010, Police in Maplewood Township (Essex County) cited a man for violating the Township's "public intoxication" code even though the Township Committee repealed that provision of the code approximately a year and a half earlier. The municipal court accepted the man's guilty plea and assessed $80 in fines and costs.
In a May 23, 2011 letter, the chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project asked Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County) Mayor James McCullough to review and update the police department's on-line internal affairs reporting form.