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RELEASE OF DIRECTIVE REVISING BERGEN COUNTY INTERNAL AFFAIRS PROCEDURES AND DISCLOSURE OF SERIOUS LAW ENFORCEMENT DISCIPLINARY VIOLATIONS

TO: ALL NEWS MEDIA
FROM: PROSECUTOR MARK MUSELLA
DATE: JUNE 23, 2020

Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella today announced the release of Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Directive No. 2020-08, Revised Internal Affairs Procedures and Public Disclosure of Serious Law Enforcement Disciplinary Violations. As we continually reassess how best to serve our communities and heal some of the divisions in our society, this Directive is one part of our effort to improve the procedures which guide and discipline our profession. This Directive is intended to address disparities in the way Bergen County police agencies conduct internal affairs (“IA”) investigations as well as the uneven level of discipline imposed on police officers among the various agencies.

This Directive also supplements the Attorney General’s Directive issued on June 15, 2020, which prospectively requires public disclosure of the identities of officers who commit serious disciplinary infractions. Consistent with and in addition to that requirement, Bergen County law enforcement agencies will be required to report the identities of those current active duty agency officers who were subject to final discipline of termination, reduction in rank or grade, or suspension of more than five days for a violation involving excessive force to a civilian, racially or bias motivated violations, driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, theft, the filing of false reports, or conduct that resulted in criminal charges from January 2000 to September 30, 2020.

Additionally, the Directive sets forth the following modifications to IA protocols for all Bergen County law enforcement agencies:
1. Certification by law enforcement executives to the Prosecutor’s Office that their
agencies have conducted thorough background investigations, to ensure that qualified applicants with good character are hired as police officers.
2. Independent investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of all well-founded allegations of criminal violations and excessive force and racially or bias motivated behavior by police officers, to ensure thoroughness and public confidence.
3. Random audits of Bergen County law enforcement agencies’ IA units to ensure compliance with Attorney General and Prosecutor Directives and uniform and thorough procedures;
4. Training for law enforcement executives on the principles of police discipline to ensure consistency within Bergen County police agencies and across the county.

Prosecutor Musella also commends the outstanding work of the men and women in Bergen County law enforcement. He stated, “Their promotions, commendations, heroism and everyday aid and support rendered to our communities should also be publicized, so that the public is fully informed of how vital law enforcement is to the safety, security and well-being of all of our residents.”

A copy of the Directive is available at https://www.bcpo.net/directives .

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