The system for citizens to file complaints against police "is riddled with problems," according to a report on WNYC.org.
State law protects residents who make complaints over police behavior and allows for complaints to be made anonymously. New Jersey Public Radio and the ACLU found that many local police officers apparently do not know the rules for residents to file complaints, according to the report.
The ACLU called 497 police departments in New Jersey and asked officers questions about filing complaints. More than half the departments answered at least one question incorrectly, according to the report. 51 departments did not get a single question right. A list of departments whose officers answered everything correctly is available online here.
The New Milford Police Department was one of 21 Bergen County departments to earn a "perfect score" for correctly answering the internal affairs questions, according to the ACLU's report.
Chief of Police Frank Papapietro was extremely pleased that New Milford came in with a perfect score. "Our department works hard to make sure we serve the residents of New Milford well," Papapietro said. "It's nice to have our efforts recognized."
Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said his office would begin distributing copies of the rules to police departments around the state, according to the report.
A widget included in the WNYC.org report — and embedded above — allows readers to search for complaint sheets by police department.
These same records are sent to Chiesa's office, but do not give enough information, according to the report. The numbers lack context — such as if numerous incidents involve the same officer — making it hard to notice patterns.
Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that more detailed records are needed to improve practices, according to the report.