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Police Wrongdoing Cost New Jersey Taxpayers $42 Million in the Last 10 Years

In scores of secret settlements, local governments have sought to hide cops' crimes and brutality.

YouTubeYouTubeLocal governments in New Jersey have had to pay out more than $42 million over the last 10 years because of police criminality and abuse, according to a new series of investigative reports by the Asbury Park Press. The paper found at least 19 deaths, 131 injuries, and 7 sexual assaults that resulted in settlement payouts. Many of the officers involved remain on duty.

Atlantic City, for example, has paid to settle five separate lawsuits arising from brutality allegations against patrol officer Sterling Wheaten, who remains on the force, where he has been the subject of at least 15 other excessive-force complaints. The former police chief of Bordentown Township is facing federal criminal charges for hate crimes and civil rights violations, but he was paid $54,000 upon his resignation. Another officer enlisted gang members to help him stalk a woman he wanted to have sex with.

The Park Press' exhaustive reporting is full of such stories of individual officers acting egregiously. But it also shows the systemic failures that have allowed such behavior to continue undiminished. Serious oversight and accountability mechanisms are weak or nonexistent in police departments across New Jersey. Some internal affairs divisions performed only the most cursory investigations, or failed to account for obvious conflicts of interest. A brutality complaint against Atlantic City officer Andrew Jaques, whose conduct has resulted in two settlements, was investigated by his uncle. Whistleblowers face rampant retaliation.

Even when departments do try to fire or discipline officers, it's often prohibitively difficult or expensive to do so. Backed up by protective laws and by police unions willing to spend large amounts on litigation, cops facing termination can sue to keep or regain their jobs, imposing significant costs on the jurisdictions trying to get rid of them.

"In scores of lawsuits, the pattern is the same," the newspaper says. "Towns routinely take the path of least resistance, at taxpayer expense, to minimize their liability....Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent, nobody admits wrongdoing and officers accused of misconduct often remain in place."

New Jersey is one of only five states that lack a statewide professional standards authority for law enforcement officers. The Asbury Park Press points out that this alows problem cops to bounce between the state's 466 local departments. In other parts of the U.S., a domestic violence arrest, a sustained misconduct allegation, or a failed psych exam might lead to an officer being decertified to work in law enforcement across the state. Not so in Jersey, where in addition to cash payouts, settlements with terminated officers often include agreements not to disclose disciplinary histories or misconduct allegations to other departments where the officer might seek employment.

Photo Credit: YouTube

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  • Citizen X - #6||

    New Jersey is just actively trying to be one of the worst places in North America, isn't it.

  • Libertymike||

    In order to be such, it really has to be on its game.

  • timbo||

    Hell I thought they owned that title 40 years ago.

  • croaker||

    Still needs to work on some things to be considered a shithole.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I think it is rather effortless for them.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The greats just make it look easy.

  • Rhywun||

    Filthajerseyweigelcrapia?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Rhywun is secretly shreek, Mikey, and Fist? I guess it makes sense.

  • Rhywun||

    Shh

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Plus they block Pennsylvania's view of the ocean.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    If you want to more about all the tax-payer funded settlements, check out John Paff's blog

    http://njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com/

    For the most part the NJ newspapers don't do any independent investigation and just wait for John to post and then they take it from there.

  • IceTrey||

    Police accountability is a joke in America.

  • Libertymike||

    Yet, there are commenters here, LINOs, who assert that protection from crime and other evilzzz is a legitimate function of government and that such a function should be monopolized.

  • DaveSs||

    Child's play compared to Chicago and its half a billion +

  • ||

    Only $42 Million? Chicago, all by itself, pays out, on average, a million dollars a week for police misbehaver.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, Chicago's been written about here a lot. Jersey wants in on the action.

  • Veritas et Libertas||

    Maybe they can create a charitable fun to pay for these settlements to help the citizens shelter tax money from the deduction on SALT.

    FromCNBC

  • Veritas et Libertas||

    SF'ed

    Here

  • Veritas et Libertas||

    I quit

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    And still nothing will be done to establish effective police accountability measures, thereby reducing police misconduct and subsequent payouts from government coffers.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The New Jersey State Government has a better union than its taxpayers.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison of cops vs bounty hunters in how they often they pay for excess force. Bounty hunters might have some of the immunity if they are friendly with cops and get some unofficial help, but they might also not be best buds and get some shade. I bet that balances out.

    Interesting, I think it would be.

  • Vernon Depner||

    "...they might also not be best buds and get some shade."

    For sure. It's not unusual for bounty hunters to be involved in criminal enterprises on the side.

  • Number 2||

    In all honesty though, internal affairs procedures in New Jersey today are far better than they were twenty years ago. I remember reading transcripts of internal affairs interviews that consisted of the investigator asking the officer, "is it true that you hit John Doe over the head with your nightstick?", the officer answering, "no," and the investigator saying, "oh well, I guess it's your word against his. I guess I have to find these charges unsustained."

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Only 42 million in ten years? Is that all?

    Given how badly New Jersey has been misgoverned for most of my lifetime, I would have expected that much in a far shorter time. Maybe 5 years or even 3. Hell, given the rampant corruption and ineptitude of the State and Local governments in NJ, I expect that misaligned road stripes have cost the State 10 million in ten years.

    Parts of New Jersey are quite pleasant. But the governance of the state and its various subdivisions makes New Orleans look like a Model City.

  • retiredfire||

    So, an average of $420,000 per year, spread among 466 local departments - I guess the State Troopers would be part of that, too.
    Less than $1000 per department, each year.
    They probably spend more than that on lost badges.
    REASON: trying to make people hate law enforcement, at every opportunity.

  • retiredfire||

    Oops, 4.2 million among 466 departments.
    OK $10,000 per year. Still less than would be wasted on lots of policies, like "sensitivity" or "sexual harassment" training.

  • Netizen_James||

    How about simply holding the officers PERSONALLY LIABLE when they violate the rights of citizens, rather than allowing taxpayers to hold the bag for these bullies with badges?

    How about additionally requiring that LEO's personally carry liability insurance in order to be employed by municipalities or States, like doctors must carry malpractice insurance in order to be employed by hospitals.
    Bully cops would soon find themselves un-insurable, and thus un-employable. Seems like one of those 'market-based solutions' we're always hearing about.

    Along the same lines, in the same way that nurses, teachers, and day-care providers are 'mandated reporters' of child abuse, such that failing to report suspected abuse to CPS is a CRIME, we should make it so that all Civil Servants, including LEOs are all 'mandated reporters' of criminal activity committed by ANY other government worker. If we find out that your 'brother in blue' was violating policy or the law, and you knew but said nothing, then YOU are going to be not only terminated, but criminally charged for your conspiracy to obstruct Justice.

    Just like all the folks in the 70th precinct who saw Volpe waving the shit-covered stick he'd just sodomized Louima with, and did NOTHING. Every single one of those 'officers of the court' should have been criminally charged with conspiracy.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    So, is that more or less than it would require to source non-sociopathic power hungry abusive animals? And how much abuse went on that didn't end in a settlement? And let me ask you this, Dunphy; why are there any settlements at all? Each and every proven case of abuse should end in the firing and blacklisting of the officer in question? These are evil people with evil intentions to evil to people. What's so hard to understand?

  • No Yards Penalty||

    RetiredFireFaggot -- when you go to the Secret Policeman's Ball, do you glory hole the first cop you meet or do you wait until one buys you a drink first?

  • Pyrrho21C||

    "New Jersey is one of only five states that lack a statewide professional standards authority..." It would have been nice if the other four had been identified.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Is that all?

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