New Jersey can release names of disciplined cops
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.
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.
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
NJ cops won’t face penalty for making too few arrests under new bill
Under the proposal, agencies would be barred from using the number of arrests made or citations issued to evaluate an officer’s overall performance
Credit By Blake Nelson for – nj.com December 14, 2020
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey lawmakers advanced a bill Friday to prevent cops from facing demotion, discipline or pay cuts just because they didn’t arrest more people.
A department would be barred from considering the number of arrests made or citations issued when evaluating an officer’s overall performance, under a proposal (S1322) approved 6-0 by the state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Current law allows those statistics to be one of the factors considered when officials weigh promotions, demotions, dismissals, discipline and salaries.
Police “are all too often pressured to write more tickets to increase revenue and help municipalities balance their budgets,” state Sen. Shirley Turner, D- Mercer and one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. Other departments have been accused of having secret arrest “quotas,” she said.
“These policies, whether written or unwritten, have fallen hardest upon low-income individuals and people of color,” Turner added.
The bill would still allow arrest and citation statistics to be tracked. The proposal must pass the full Senate and Assembly before it can head to the governor’s desk.
Several policing reforms have advanced since George Floyd protests swept the state. The governor recently signed a bill into law largely requiring departments to use body cameras, but other reforms have stalled.
Police prepare for protests after officer-involved shooting in Philadelphia leaves criminal dead
November 13, 2020 – Credit Law Enforcement Today
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania got into a vehicle pursuit with a man who was armed with a gun.
When the subject crashed his car during the pursuit, he began to fire on the officers, prompting them to return fire, striking and killing the man.
The incident occurred on November 12th when officers in an unmarked police vehicle noted a red Ford Mustang that was stopped in an intersection near B and Stella Streets.
The officers honked their horn, apparently hoping the driver would move out of the intersection and allow them to pass, but the car did not move.
Officers exited their vehicle and approached the man, who was holding a gun in his hand. When they got the man’s attention, he seemed startled and fled.
The vehicle pursuit continued until the car crashed near Jasper Street and Hart Lane. The driver, who has not been identified at this time, took off in an attempt to get away from the officers.
Fearing for their lives, the officers returned fire, striking the man. Officers rushed into render aid to the man, and called for medics to respond to the scene. Once they arrived, they transported the suspect to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Thankfully, the police were not injured during the incident. The officers involved will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is normal procedure for these cases.
Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp said:
“When the officers in their unmarked vehicle came upon that crash, one of the officers exited the vehicle and stayed with the crashed vehicle to preserve that scene. While the other officer stayed inside of their unmarked car to try to ascertain the location of the driver.
“Shortly thereafter, he came upon this male…at which point the officer exited his vehicle [and] attempted to stop the male. From what we have through surveillance footage and body cam footage…it appears that the offender fired at least two shots at our police officer.
“Our police officer fired at least two shots in return, striking the male…that male was transported by police to Einstein Hospital and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter…
This is a very fluid situation…while this investigation is taking place, it will be handled by our Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit along with Internal Affairs who will provide the results of their concurrent investigations to the District Attorney’s Office.”
“New dash cam video shows the 39 year old suspect in the red mustang fleeing from police, driving the wrong way and almost hitting Avi D, in his car. The suspect eventually crashed, and fled on foot before exchanging shots with @PhillyPolice.”
At this point, police stated that they have identified the male as a 39-year-old Hispanic, but they are not releasing his name. This is most likely because they have not made contact with the man’s next of kin.
The City of Philadelphia is just getting over the mass riots, protests, and looting that occurred after police shot and killed Walter Wallace, Jr. In that incident, police were called because Wallace was threatening family members with a knife.
When police arrived on the scene, they made contact with Wallace who was still armed with the knife. Officers backed up, almost to the point of running away from Wallace, while shouting orders for the man to drop the knife, which he ignored.
After several orders were ignored and Wallace appeared to pick up his pace towards officers, they opened fire, striking and killing him at the scene.
Despite the video evidence which proves officers account of the situation, the city still became a center of unrest because Wallace allegedly suffered from mental illness which is believed by the family to have caused the incident.
2 officers ambushed in New Orleans, one shot in face by man in pedicab
The officers were in an SUV when the pedicab approached
Credit: The New Orleans Advocate
NEW ORLEANS — A pedicab passenger inexplicably shot a New Orleans police officer in the face in the French Quarter on Friday afternoon, just as revelers began arriving to celebrate Halloween weekend.
The officer was wounded at about 4:25 p.m. while in his patrol vehicle near St. Philip and Royal streets. Other officers took him to a hospital rather than wait for paramedics, and police arrested the alleged gunman within minutes, Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the officer was in serious but stable condition after being shot under his left eye. The bullet was lodged in the officer’s skull, but the four-year veteran, whose name was not immediately released, was responsive as he walked into the hospital holding his cheek, Ferguson said.
A second officer, a 16-year veteran, was wounded by glass shards in the shooting, from a shattered window on the cruiser.
“Two of our officers were ambushed,” said Ferguson, who said officers confiscated a gun that they think was used in the shooting. “This is a dark day.”
Ferguson said the suspect, who had a gun holster on him, appeared to be experiencing some type of medical episode when he was captured. He said the man was taken to a hospital for evaluation, and he made clear that the arresting officers did not use any physical force on the suspect.
“I want to commend those officers for maintaining professionalism,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson did not identify the suspect or specify what charges he would face.
Friday night, a law enforcement source identified the suspect as Donnell Linwood Hansel, 45.
Several eyewitnesses said two officers were in an SUV on Royal Street crossing St. Philip when a pedicab riverbound on St. Philip approached. A man in the back of the pedicab stood up and fired at least five shots into the driver’s side door of the police vehicle, they said. The shooter ran off as the pedicab crashed.
Gabriel Shaffer, an artist who owns a gallery on that block of Royal, said he heard the wounded officer get out of the vehicle while moaning and exclaiming in pain.
“I could clearly hear him say, ‘Oh, my God, somebody just took my life!'” Shaffer said. “It was pretty awful.”
Tour guides Angie Still and Karen Fernandez said they were just a few yards away when the shooting erupted. They saw an officer on the passenger side of the targeted police vehicle jump out and scream, “Officer down!” Neither officer from the vehicle appeared to have time to return fire.
“We were just sitting there in shock,” Still said.
Douglas Mackar, who was in a building overlooking the scene of the shooting, said he heard the gunshots and ran to the window. He said he saw the driver of the pedicab crash into the sidewalk and run for cover.
Mackar said he ran from the window to check on his girlfriend, and by the time he returned, the wounded officer had already been whisked away to the hospital. “Whoever was first on the scene got him loaded up and out of here within seconds,” Mackar said.
A woman who asked that her name not be published said she saw the suspected shooter flailing, screaming and trying to bite first responders who were loading him into an ambulance after his arrest.
At the wig shop Fifi Mahoney’s, employees grabbed a few passerby from the street and locked them inside along with six customers. One customer, a doctor, left and dashed to the shooting scene to help, returning later with bloodied hands to take his wife home, an employee said.
Ferguson said passersby helped officers find the gunman by pointing him out as he ran to the intersection of St. Peter and Decatur streets. A retired Army veteran performed first aid on the officer’s face wound before he was taken to the hospital, Ferguson said.
The police chief thanked those members of the public for each of those actions, which came amid a party atmosphere that is typical in the French Quarter on a Friday evening.
Donovan Livaccari of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge called the shooting was a sobering reminder of the dangers inherent to professional law enforcement.
“Merely driving down the street … can lead to gunfire,” he said. “These two officers were not responding to a call for service. They were not looking for an armed subject on a pedicab. They were driving around in the French Quarter on routine patrol.”
“If the city can’t even keep the police safe, how can we feel safe?” wondered a worried Kim Planche Hunter, who has lived in the French Quarter resident for 70 years.
Ferguson said the attack marked a particularly grueling hour in what has been a difficult year for both his agency and the city. Not only has New Orleans been gripped by the deadly coronavirus pandemic since March, it also took a direct hit two days earlier from Hurricane Zeta, a strong Category 2 storm that caused widespread damage and left tens of thousands without electricity even two days later.
“We’ll get through this together,” Ferguson said.
Katelyn Umholtz contributed to this report.
(c)2020 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
McClatchy-Tribune News Service