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NJ can release names of disciplined cops, appeals court rules

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New Jersey can release names of disciplined cops

NJ can release names of disciplined cops, appeals court rules
NJ can release names of disciplined cop

October 17, 2020 CREDIT: Blake Nelson for NJ.Com

TRENTON, N.J. — A state appeals court on Friday said New Jersey can release names of disciplined cops who found guilty of misconduct, in some cases going back decades — a defeat for police unions who argued the plan would put a “scarlet letter” on cops who otherwise did their job well.

“The erosion of confidence in our law enforcement agencies is a serious problem,” Judge Allison Accurso wrote in the opinion, and the state attorney general “acted within the authority conferred on him” when he told police departments to identify some disciplined officers.

Friday appellate division panel’s decision was 3-0. It will likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Unlike other states, New Jersey has long hidden the names of officers punished for drinking on the job, giving false testimony or abusing family members.

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State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal tried to reverse course in June, the month after George Floyd was killed, by issuing two directives.

The first ordered police departments statewide to name cops who were fired, demoted or suspended for more than five days by the end of the year. Agencies needed to identify officers found guilty of misconduct going forward, although they were encouraged to also name anyone given “major discipline” in the past.

The second directive told the State Police, the juvenile prison system and part of Grewal’s office to name disciplined officers going back 20 years.

Police unions sued after the directives were issued, and a state appeals court stopped the releases until the two sides could meet in court.

Friday’s decision said release names of disciplined cops and officer names cannot be released for at least five more days, to allow time for an appeal.

More than a dozen lawyers debated the proposal during a four-hour hearing last month.

Ten lawyers representing a coalition of unions and law enforcement groups said the plan was too broad, and risked shaming cops who might have done nothing more than wear an offensive T-Shirt. Troopers had pleaded guilty to accusations in exchange for confidentiality, they said, and naming them now would violate that agreement.

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Grewal’s office countered that the plan would “build trust in law enforcement in the middle of a once-in-a-generation reckoning over transparency and accountability.” Keeping the records secret crippled the public’s ability to monitor bad cops, said lawyers representing the public defender’s office, civil rights groups and two other law enforcement organizations.

Grewal addressed the lawsuits Thursday during an unrelated webinar.

The plan would enhance trust between cops and communities, he said, without being as sweeping as a proposal before the state Legislature (S2656) that would largely make all disciplinary records public.

“If people don’t trust the cops, they’re not going to report crimes, if people don’t trust the prosecutors, they’re not going to testify in court,” Grewal said. “If that doesn’t happen, that’s bad for public safety.”

(c)2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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In The News

At Least 13 Shot, 1 Dead in Tenn. Grocery Store Shooting

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Collierville’s police chief called the shooting at Kroger grocery store “the most horrific event that’s occurred in” the city’s history.

September 23, 2021 – By Nelson Oliveira – Source New York Daily News

A gunman shot and killed at least one person and injured at least 12 more in a shooting Thursday afternoon at a Kroger in a Memphis suburb.

The suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Collierville police chief Dale Lane told reporters at a press conference.

The chief said officers were still working Thursday afternoon to locate all the victims from the mass shooting and determine their conditions. Lane called it “the most horrific event that’s occurred in Colliverville history” and said the 12 wounded people were transported to multiple hospitals with “very serious injuries.”

Neither the shooter nor the victims have been identified.

The first shots were fired around 1:30 p.m. local time, with the first police officers reaching the scene four minutes later, according to Lane.

After the shooting stopped, cops went room to room and aisle to aisle in search of employees and shoppers who had been hiding since the bullets started flying. At least one person hid in a freezer, while another escaped to the roof, Lane said.

The shooter’s car was in the Kroger parking lot, and police were waiting Thursday afternoon for equipment to fully examine the vehicle, Lane said.

©2021 New York Daily News. 

Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Man Shoots Calif. Officer Before Standoff with Police

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An Oakland police officer was taken to the hospital in stable condition after he was shot by a man who then barricaded himself before police convinced him to surrender.

September 22, 2021 – By Rick Hurd – Source Mercury News

A person shot an Oakland police officer early Wednesday morning and later barricaded himself before crisis negotiators were able to convince him to surrender, police said.

In a series of posts on Twitter, police said the officer was in stable condition at a hospital after being shot on Telegraph Avenue.

Police said they recovered a gun from the scene.

The suspect barricaded himself with a knife in the 2100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way, police said. Negotiators and members of the Oakland Police Department’s mental health team went to the scene and convinced the suspect to surrender around 8:25 a.m., police said.

The suspect had some minor self-inflicted wounds from the knife, police said. Police later recovered the knife.

(c)2021 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Tennessee K-9 Shot Multiple Times During Foot Chase

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The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office K-9 needed surgery and was in “semi-stable” condition after being wounded by gunfire in Cleveland.

September 23, 2021 – By Ben Benton – Source Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

Authorities in Cleveland, Tennessee, said a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office police K-9 was shot multiple times during a foot chase Wednesday morning in the woods near the Toyota of Cleveland dealership at Interstate 75’s exit 20.

Police are seeking at least four men in connection with the shooting.

The department’s K-9, Joker, had surgery Wednesday and was reported in “semi-stable” condition afterwards.

The dog has been in service with the department for the last five years and “is a cherished, loyal and devoted BCSO family member,” sheriff’s spokesperson Alana Shell said in a social media post. “Joker is truly our hero.”

Joker’s handler, deputy Eduardo Choate, was uninjured during the incident, she said.

Police received a burglary call about 2 a.m. Wednesday for Harrison Pike apartment complex, Shell said in a statement.

Officers entered the apartment complex and spotted a white Jeep Gladiator speeding onto Georgetown Road, heading toward Interstate 75, Shell said. Officers caught up to the Jeep at mile marker 25 on I-75, confirmed it was reported stolen in Hamilton County and tried to stop the vehicle.

“The suspects fled on foot into the woods around Toyota of Cleveland at Exit 20,” she said. “K-9 Joker was deployed by his handler.

“Upon making contact with the suspects, K-9 Joker was shot multiple times,” she said. “The K-9 was immediately taken to an emergency animal hospital in Chattanooga.”

While Sheriff Steve Lawson activated the department’s SWAT members and other off-duty officers to set up a perimeter in an attempt to corral the suspects, authorities were told a blue/silver 2009 4-door Lexus IS 250 with no license plate and a loud muffler had been stolen from the Withrow Road area and the suspects were headed toward Chattanooga, police said.

A witness told police the vehicle was last seen occupied by at least four men who are now considered armed and dangerous, Shell said.

“We appreciate the immediate response and wonderful collaboration between the Cleveland Police Department, Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and BCSO’s SWAT Team,” Lawson said in the statement.

Chattanooga police also assisted, he said.

The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available, Shell said.

(c)2021 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Visit the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.) at www.timesfreepress.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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