Just one percent of complaints about excessive use of force by police are actually acted upon in central New Jersey, according to an investigation by Courier News and the Home News Tribune.
The papers looked into the number of excessive force complaints in the area between 2008 and 2012, then found out how many were actually accepted as legitimate by the internal review mechanisms meant to investigate them. Just one percent were — a full seven percentage points below the national average. In many towns and cities, not a single complaint was recognized:
Elizabeth, for example, processed 203 such complaints in the five-year period and not once sided with a complainant. Woodbridge had 84 complaints, New Brunswick had 81, Perth Amboy had 50 and Linden had 33. In all those cases, these agencies either “exonerated” the officers, dismissed the complaints as frivolous, determined that they did not have sufficient evidence or simply never closed the investigations.[…]
Woodbridge had 84 force complaints, New Brunswick had 81, Perth Amboy had 50, Edison had 32 and Carteret had 21. Carteret sustained one. Rutgers police sustained one of four.
Some of these places have had notorious incidents of police brutality. In Edison, New Jersey, for example, one police officer was the subject of 11 excessive force complaints. While this investigation shows none of those were honored, he eventually was arrested on attempted murder and drug charges. During that investigation, lawyers said they found brass knuckles and a small club in his patrol bag. Both items are prohibited.