Earlier this week, Village Green published a story about a call by the Black Parents Workshop, led by Walter Fields, for the Township of Maplewood to release police recordings from incidents surrounding the arrest of four local teens after last year’s fireworks on July 5. The story also noted that Village Green has filed Open Public Records Act requests for the files.
In response, the Maplewood Township Committee has released the following statement:
Maplewood is committed to the equal, respectful and dignified treatment of all people and has long embraced and welcomed individuals of diverse racial, ethic and national backgrounds.
Last December the Maplewood Township Committee unanimously approved Resolution 226-16 expressing its “deep concerns about the events of July 5, 2016.” The TC called upon the Essex County Prosecutor to conduct a thorough and fair investigation.
The Prosecutor concluded the investigation of the Chief of Police and Police Captain on March 30, 2017 and found “insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution.”
Nevertheless, there continues to be a Maplewood Police Department internal affairs investigation related to July 5th. Since this investigation is still active, it would be inappropriate for the Township Committee to publicly comment. The Committee cannot say or take any action that could undermine the investigation or infringe on the rights of those being investigated.
At the same time, the Township Committee has deep concerns and wants to know more about the events of July 5, 2016. It has hired the firm, Hillard Heinze, to complete an independent assessment of July 5th and to make recommendations regarding police policies, procedures and practices. The work of Hillard Heinze should be finished by the end of September. At this time the Township Committee cannot say or take any action that could prejudice the work of Hillard Heinze.
At the conclusion of the internal police investigation and the independent assessment, it is anticipated that relevant material will be made available to the public under the Open Public Records Act.