February 18, 2019 | 34° F

Discrimination lawsuit could cost the New Brunswick Police Department millions in tax dollars

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One of two lawsuits filed citing discriminatory practices and favoritism by members of the New Brunswick Police Department has been settled. The four officers who submitted the case claimed intimidation and political biases were also involved. 

In late 2017, 1 of 2 lawsuits filed in 2012 charging the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) with discrimination was settled, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Four Black police officers filed lawsuits “claiming they were discriminated against by their corrupt bosses,” according to a report from New Brunswick Today.

The lawsuits also claimed the cases represented the constant intimidation of people of color on the police force as well as issues of politics — officers donating their time and money to “seven-term Mayor James Cahill are rewarded, while those who don’t are punished,” according to the report.

For Rutgers students, such issues within the small city that houses their University can be unsettling, but according to the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), it takes action to prevent any similar issues from happening on campus.

Michael J. Rein, the deputy chief of University Police, said RUPD is 1 of 17 police departments within the state to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and is the only department in the state simultaneously accredited by the New Jersey Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

“What this means is that the Rutgers University Police Department holds its members (sworn police officers and non-sworn civilians) … to very high standards which govern: crime prevention and control capabilities; essential management procedures; fair and non-discriminatory personnel practices; service-deliver; interagency cooperation and coordination,” he said in an email.

Training within the RUPD includes online and classroom discussions, and its members receive training on University policy 60.1.12 — “Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment,” and cultural-awareness training that focuses on these issues directly, he said.

“The RUPD conducts training on ethics, has supervision in place to monitor working conditions and employees are afforded a multitude of means of reporting concerns,” he said.

Rein said that the RUPD and NBPD have a strong, interdependent partnership “centered on providing exceptional policing services” to Rutgers and the surrounding communities. 

 He did not comment on the discrimination lawsuits.

RUPD members attend community events and conduct regular surveys of their community.

The data from their event attendance and surveys is used to designate community-involvement initiatives and crime-prevention activities that will be further developed based “on data reflective of community input and indicative of the types of problems that pose the greatest concern to the community,” he said.

The RUPD, broken down by the numbers provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is more diverse than most local police departments.

Average departments maintain a race breakdown of 72.8 percent white, 12.2 percent Black or African American and 2.4 percent Asian or other races, while the RUPD ranks are comprised of 55 percent white, 21 percent Black or African American, 17 percent Hispanic and 4.6 percent officers that are Asian or other races, he said.

“The RUPD strives to provide essential policing and security services to the Rutgers University Community,” he said. “While all members of the RUPD engage in community partnerships, the RUPD has officers specifically assigned to community policing functions."

Alexandra DeMatos

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