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For Immediate Release

May 21, 2024

Indignation and despair are the only words to describe our feelings after reading the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller (“OSC”)’s Ninth Review on Law Enforcement Professional Standards. Every day that continues to go by without intentional, forceful action in furtherance of the OSC’s May 21, 2024 recommendations is another day in which white supremacy and racial discrimination are allowed to thrive and flourish.

Make no mistake. OSC investigated the New Jersey State Police (“NJSP”) and the Office of the Law Enforcement Professional Standards (“OLEPS”) within the Attorney General’s Office and found clear evidence that both NJSP and OLEPS have known for years that NJSP was likely engaging in wide-spread patterns of discriminatory policing. They not only received this data and did nothing, they were bombarded with the evidence year after year and took conscious efforts to ignore or bury the data. OSC Acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh acted with bravery and intestinal fortitude in writing this current report. Perhaps, it is this exact courage that keeps Acting Comptroller Walsh from being appointed and confirmed into a full cabinet position.

We have long known racial bias—whether implicit or not—has plagued Black and Brown

community members’ interactions with NJSP. For decades, we have shouted it from the rooftops and demanded action. Policy makers up and down the chain of command made promise after promise to investigate and do something. We begged, marched, and cried for action. Awards were given and careers were advanced based on these promises. Yet despite these assurances, oftentimes made while looking us in the eye, no meaningful change has actually occurred. Tell us: how can we feel anything but indignation and despair?

OSC makes clear New Jersey is facing an existential crisis in its policing. A crisis that emanates from the top and rots these institutions to the core. Even when OSC was implementing its legislative mandate, NJSP and OLEPS intentionally hid documents and circumvented plain law — without any consequence. When the Open Public Records Act and public transparency in New Jersey is facing fundamental assault and is in a state of emergency, these institutions must be held accountable.

Richard T. Smith

President, NAACP New Jersey State Conference

Member, NAACP National Board of Directors

Javier Robles

President, Latino Action Network

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