OLEPS is dedicated to ensuring that the citizens of New Jersey continue to be protected and served by law enforcement professionals who conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, proficiency, and accountability.
In 1999, the United States (Department of Justice) brought a complaint against the State of New Jersey (Division of State Police) alleging that State Police engaged in a practice that deprived individuals of “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” including the improper use of race to target minority drivers and passengers. Although the State Police denied that its members engaged in discriminatory law enforcement, it agreed to enter into a Consent Decree with the Department of Justice to avoid litigation, to continue its ongoing efforts to prohibit discriminatory law enforcement, and to implement change in the management and supervision of the actions of the State Police. The Office of State Police Affairs (OSPA) was created by the Consent Decree (¶110) and tasked with ensuring the implementation of the Decree’s terms.
Recognizing years of State Police compliance with the provisions of the Consent Decree, in August 2009, the State joined in a motion with the Department of Justice to terminate the Decree under the condition that the reforms attained under the terms of the Consent Decree were codified. On September 21, 2009, the joint motion was granted, dissolving the Consent Decree.
Continuing to acknowledge the strong public policy interest in perpetuating the quality and standards established under the 1999 Consent Decree, the Legislature enacted the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act of 2009. (N.J.S.A. 52:17B-222, et seq.) (Act). The Act established the Office of Law Enforcement Professional Standards (OLEPS) within the Office of the Attorney General and assumed the functions that had been performed under the Consent Decree.
As part of its statutory responsibilities, OLEPS reviews all Division of State Police (Division) rules, regulations, standing operating procedures and operations instructions as set forth in the Act. This ensures that the Division maintains and enhances its practices on matters pertaining to any applicable nondiscriminatory policy affecting, for example, the law of arrest, search and seizure, documentation of motor vehicle stops and other law enforcement activities occurring during the course of a motor vehicle stop.
The Act further authorizes OLEPS to conduct operations audits and independent analyses of data, as necessary, to identify any potential disparity in enforcement. OLEPS analyses are also important to identify systematic problems that may exist affecting the integrity of motor vehicle stops, post-stop enforcement actions, supervision of patrol activities, training provided to Division members assigned to patrol duties, investigations of alleged misconduct and other matters affecting the integrity of the Division.
Based on its audits, OLEPS is required to prepare a biannual report that evaluates the Division’s compliance with relevant performance standards and procedures. OLEPS is also required to publish biannual reports that include aggregate statistics on the Division’s traffic enforcement activities and procedures, segregated by Division station and providing aggregate data on race and ethnicity of the civilians involved. OLEPS further reports aggregate data regarding misconduct investigations, including the number of external, internal and total complaints received and the disposition of those complaints.
OLEPS also provides legal advice to the NJSP Office of Professional Standards (OPS), the Division unit tasked with investigating alleged misconduct of enlisted members of the Division, and prosecutes misconduct cases of Division members.
Furthermore, OLEPS is authorized to ensure the integrity of law enforcement and to assist and provide guidance to law enforcement entities Statewide.