"Eight years after New Jersey acknowledged that troopers were focusing on black and Hispanic drivers at traffic stops, federal monitors said on Wednesday that the New Jersey State Police had made so much progress in its attempts to eliminate racial profiling that it no longer needed federal supervision. The monitors concluded in a report that in periodic reviews during the past eight years, the police had shown significant improvement in procedures and training.” (Chen, New York Times)
Much of the time, reporters in the traditional media spend lots of time focusing on the corruption, scandal and sleaze that seems to be equally traditional in the New Jersey political landscape. Now an article in the New York Times focuses on something very positive about New Jersey: the eradication of ‘racial profiling’ in the state.
Eight years ago during the Whitman Administration, the State Police were found to have been racially profiling black and Latino drivers on New Jersey roads. Many in the Administration, including then Attorney General Peter Verniero refused to acknowledge that racial profiling was an issue. Even Governor Whitman showed her insensitivity to the issue by allowing herself to be photographed ‘patting down a suspect’ while out with the police in Camden.
Verniero, testifying before the New Jersey State Senate, said that he “continually assigned subordinates to look into troublesome reports about racial profiling by state police and that [he] rarely followed up to learn what they had found”.
This problem compelled New Jersey to sign a consent decree in 1999, whereby the state “agreed to allow the federal Department of Justice to oversee how traffic stops were conducted, along with other State Police activities”, according to the article in the New York Times.
Kudos to the New Jersey State Police on setting a great standard in eliminating racial profiling on NJ state roads. They deserve pats on the back for moving swiftly in the right direction in eliminating this repulsive and clearly unconstitutional practice.
The State is requesting that the Justice Department no longer have monitoring authority over the state police, since a federal report indicates that “compliance requirements in all areas are now at 100 percent levels…it appears the ultimate goal has been attained”, according to the New York Times article.
Hopefully, this practice is completely a thing of the past, and racial profiling will never again rear its ugly head.
This is especially important given today’s racially charged issue of immigration and its impact on local communities.