Maplewood Police and Fire South Orange

NJ.com Database Has ‘Every Punch, Kick & Pepper Spray by Police in Your Town’ — Maplewood & South Orange Respond

This story is developing and will be updated. 

“Five years. 72,607 documents. Every local police department in N.J. We built the most comprehensive statewide database of police use of force in the U.S.”

That’s the tag.

The Force Report, published today by NJ.com is a “16-month investigation into New Jersey’s broken system for tracking and stopping overly aggressive police officers before they cause unnecessary injuries and costly lawsuits. NJ Advance Media reporters filed 506 public records requests and collected 72,607 use-of-force forms covering 2012 through 2016, the most recent full year available.”

Response has been swift on social media, with members of local Facebook groups quickly sifting through the database to find instances of force and discuss them online.

Local resident and Star-Ledger reporter Steve Stirling was part of the team that put the report together. Stirling told Village Green that the report has generated tremendous response immediately: “It’s pretty remarkable so far. When the state AG calls your project on policing ‘nothing short of incredible,’ I think that’s a pretty good sign.”

Village Green will be reviewing the database and following up.

Village Green has reached out to leadership in Maplewood and South Orange for reactions.

South Orange Village President Sheena Collum responded at length on November 30 (see her full response here), stating:

“Since 2016, the concluding date of data collected, use of force in South Orange has decreased by roughly 50% and is down from its peak in 2012 by 80%. …

“I attribute this trend to the ongoing work that is happening in the police department under Chief Kroll. De-escalation training is important and earlier this year, Chief Kroll initiated an “eradicating racial profiling” training. On one hand, I’m pleased with the direction and emphasis on professional development and the standard to which our law enforcement officers are being held but on the other hand, it’s to be expected – here and in every police department across the state. Fair and equal policing is a moral imperative and not just a lofty goal.”

Maplewood Township Committee and the Maplewood Police Department issues a joint statement on Friday at 4:50 p.m. and announced that the Township would be hosting a community forum on police use of force at an as-yet-named date and location. (Read the full statement here.)

Search the database here: http://force.nj.com/

Read background on The Force Report here. 

Read about how New Jersey mandated the filing of use-of-force reports by police officers 17 years ago, but never created a database of the reports, here.

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