TRENTON, Nj (WPHL)– The United States Department of Justice has opened up an investigation into the City of Trenton and the Trenton Police Department over civil rights practice concerns.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey announced the investigation which will seek to find Constitutional and federal law violations by the Trenton Police Department.
According to the U.S. DOJ, the investigation will focus on TPD’s use of force, traffic stops, searches, and arrests.
“The public must have trust and confidence that police officers will treat them fairly and with respect,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. “The Justice Department is opening an investigation into the Trenton Police Department after an extensive review of publicly available information and other information provided to us suggesting that officers used force, stopped motorists and pedestrians, and conducted searches of homes and cars in violation of the Constitution and federal law. Our experience has shown that policing practices that run afoul of the law and our Constitution can lead to distrust between police officers and the community. The Justice Department will conduct a full and fair investigation into these allegations, and if we substantiate those violations, the department will take appropriate action to remedy them.”
This investigation was not prompted by one specific incident, says the U.S. DOJ but rather a set of concerns raised over time in regard to body cam footage, police documents, public information, reports, and complaints from the community.
“Police officers have the difficult job of keeping us safe, and most officers do this work with honor and distinction,” said U.S. Attorney Sellinger. “But if police officers abuse the trust the community places in them and fail to respect the constitutional rights of those in the community, and if the community feels threatened by those who wear the badge, it undermines public safety and endangers the very citizens they swore to protect and serve. Unfortunately, we have reviewed numerous reports that Trenton police officers may have used force inappropriately and conducted stops, searches, and arrests with no good reason in violation of individuals’ constitutional rights.”
Due to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local government law enforcement officers from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their constitutional rights, the investigation will be conducted by the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division.
The U.S. DOJ promises to “address any unlawful conduct” they find to “ensure effective, constitutional policing in Trenton and throughout New Jersey.