Less than a week after New Jersey agreed to pay a settlement of $425,000 to a mentally disabled man who had been beaten up by state troopers at a traffic stop, the state Attorney General’s office has come out with an alarming report saying that troopers make a “troubling” amount of mistakes on the highways and that their supervisors too often don’t catch them.
In addition to excessive use of force, the improper procedures documented in the report include illegal vehicle searches, failing to read Miranda warnings to suspects and the excessive use of police dogs against African-American motorists.
The report documents 155 cases that state police supervisors were required to examine. Approximately 30 percent of those cases, 46 in total, were found to contain a police error which inspectors simply missed, according to the report as descrbed in the Newark Star-Ledger.
This is a very disturbing report,” said police reform expert Samuel Walker. “By the time you reach 30 percent, that’s getting pretty serious.”
New Jersey state police stop about 400,000 motorists per year, so the report covered only a tiny fraction of those and made a point of saying that the majority of troopers do their jobs properly.
Still, the report found a “trend of increasing numbers of errors made during motor vehicle stops,” despite escalating attention paid to the problem in recent years.
Last week, the state settled a lawsuit brought by James Bayliss who was thrown to the ground and punched repeatedly in the face by two state troopers in 2009. The incident was caught on video which caused a public outcry when it was released.
Bayliss was already suffering from a debilitating brain injury which caused him to act in a way that the cops took as resistance, even though they had been informed of his condition.
But video of such incidents, though it is routinely recorded by police dashboard cameras, frequently goes missing or is incomplete, according to this week’s report.
SOURCES: Newark Star-Ledger (2)