Target: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Goal: Ensure that all allegations of police misconduct are investigated by an impartial third party
“To Protect and to Serve” is a familiar motto used by many police departments. It conveys a belief that law enforcement can offer protection from crime, and that the police exist to serve the people. But in light of the seemingly rampant and unchecked police brutality reported in the state of New Jersey, a reasonable question might be: to protect and serve whom?
Two New Jersey newspapers investigated the hundreds of police misconduct complaints in seven precincts between 2008-2012 and found that internal affairs departments dismissed all but 1% of claims. Take, for example, the case of David Connor Castellani, a 20-year old student who was thrown out of a casino in Atlantic City because he was underage. A mob of five officers and a police dog then proceeded to beat and bite Castellani to the point he required 200 stitches; yet in this case, similar to so many others, the victim was later charged with assaulting the police.
Internal affairs is a department within many precincts which investigates misconduct claims. Assemblyman Peter Barnes III and others have argued that the Attorney Generals Office or another unbiased third party should be tasked with the job instead. Barnes maintains, “It’s long since past the day where you can say with a straight face that it’s OK to have officers investigate their own.” Tell New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to end this unchecked violence, and demand that a neutral party oversee all allegations of police misconduct.
Dear New Jersey Governor Chris Christie,
New Jersey is famous for its lush gardens, historical “firsts,” and a wealth of arts and culture. Unfortunately, New Jersey is quickly gaining infamy as a hotbed of unchecked police brutality, as well. According to an investigation by the Courier News and Home News Tribune, only 1% of hundreds of allegations of police misconduct were accepted as legitimate by internal affairs departments. This is not the kind of image you want for your proud state.
At times the need for force may not be clear to bystanders and those in temporary custody. One can assume that some claims of excessive force are exaggerated; but it’s impossible to believe that all such claims are faulty, as in Elizabeth, where between 2008-2012 internal affairs sided with officers in all of 203 claims. Woodbridge, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Linden had a total of 248 claims of police misconduct during the same period; not one of these investigations found in favor of the claimant.
This is clearly an issue which must be addressed. Internal affairs appears unable or unwilling to keep violent officers in check, and so as Governor it must fall on you to do so. An impartial, third party such as the Attorney General’s Office or county clerk must be put in charge of all misconduct investigations, and should be overseen by a citizen’s review board. Don’t let this injustice, this flagrant abuse of power, become what New Jersey is known for.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: liftarn via the Open Clip Art Library