Néstor Montilla, Sr.
Chief Communications Officer
LLANJ Releases Review of Bloomfield NJ Police Use of Force Trends
-Use of force and arrests inexplicably increased disproportionally impacting people of color living or passing through Bloomfield, NJ –
Trenton, NJ (Monday, June 6, 2016). — The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ), the only state-wide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advocating to unify people’s voices and empower the Latino and NJ diverse communities through social justice and government accountability, released today a nine-page Review of the Bloomfield NJ Police Use of Force Trends. The document compiles eight years of Bloomfield Police use of force data.
LLANJ also sent a letter to Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, to share the document and to seek federal review to determine justifications for using force and whether officers have been conducting themselves within constitutional framework.
The Review, commissioned by LLANJ Board of Delegates, was spearheaded by Richard Rivera, Chairman of LLANJ Public Safety & Civil Rights Commission, one of LLANJ’s projects to monitor police activity and establish working collaborations with law enforcement officials to address community concerns and promote transparency in local and statewide policing.
- According to the LLANJ Review:
In 2015, arrests in Bloomfield more than doubled from the previous year, and 2016 trends are on track to exceed arrests and traffic stops from 2015. The collateral effect of these inexplicable increases that were previously unchecked, has had detrimental consequences upon persons of color living or passing through Bloomfield.
- Use of force reports increased 94.8% in 2015 from the previous year. Force increased again 235% from January-April 2015 to January-April 2016.
- Over the same periods (2014 to 2015) African-Americans subjected to force increased 50% and another 500% for the beginning of 2016. In 2016, African-Americans were the subjects of force in 69.2% of all UFR incidents.
- Likewise, Latinos subjected to force increased 333% (2014 to 2015) and another 50% in 2016.
- The huge disparity in use of force upon minorities in Bloomfield has not been explained. There is no direct correlation between an uptick in arrests to explain the use of force rate.
LLANJ is seeking an independent federal review of the Bloomfield Police Department and its use of force practices and oversight.
ABOUT: The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ) is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1999 to mobilize and empower Latino communities to obtain political, economic, and social equity and unify organizations and individuals in advocating for the rights and advancement of Latinos throughout the state of New Jersey.
Review of Bloomfield, New Jersey Police Use of Force Trends
(For a printable copy, click here)
Click here for a printable copy of LLANJ Letter to the Honorable Gupta
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice
In 2008, the Latino Leadership Alliance created the Civil Rights Protection Project to address the needs of community members with regards to civil rights issues they faced in government interactions, accessibility and enforcement activities. Over the years, there has been a significant level of advocacy surrounding police encounters and how those interactions affect communities of color. In 2011, the Project was funded by a grant from the Open Society Foundation to focus on the mass incarceration of minorities that may otherwise be reduced with a proper application of police internal investigations of misconduct where officers may subject persons to false charges and/or excessive force. Since its inception, the Project has accumulated thousands of police reports from throughout New Jersey on the subjects of citizen complaints and use of force incidents. We regularly meet with law enforcement officials to share our data and findings as part of a collaborative effort to address police practices and the potential disparate impact upon persons of color. The efforts have resulted in policy and enforcement modifications across the law enforcement spectrum that demonstrates the effectiveness of community input in police activities.
Since 2010, we have made public the use of force practices by police agencies in Bergen, Cumberland, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic, Salem and counties. Our ability to access and analyze police officer use of force reports is achieved through an open public records law that provides the public the ability to view and critique these and other police records. That accessibility has recently been limited by a court ruling denying access to police records relating to ongoing “investigations”. Police agencies need not articulate to what extent, if any the records are being reviewed as part of an ongoing criminal investigation but based on our experiences in this area, the denial shields officers, their agencies and the Office of Attorney General from public scrutiny and accountability.
New Jersey is the only state with a unified policing arrangement whereby all police agencies are answerable to a single individual; the state Attorney General. While this arrangement can be viewed as positive when it comes to contemporary policy and oversight of local and county law enforcement agencies, it also offers a consolidated power and control structure whereby failures go undetected because of secrecy and the reliance of police to police themselves. With few exceptions, county prosecutors fail to establish state of the art standards for local police or hold local police accountable to constitutional policing standards in relation to use of force training and application. Exposing local failures may point to shortcomings within the county prosecutor’s oversight and therefore exposure is not a factor given the shroud of secrecy and lack of public input in policing practices. This scenario plays out at the county prosecutor level where the Office of Attorney General may hold prosecutors accountably for failing to oversee local police. To do so may expose the Attorney General to criticism for failing to adequately oversee county prosecutors.
For complete review, click here: LLANJ Review of Bloomfield, New Jersey Police Use of Force Trends JUNE 2016