Police union sues state attorney general over plans to publish names of disciplined cops
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The union that represents New Jersey state troopers is suing New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to stop his plan to publicly release the names of troopers who have been disciplined.
The State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey argued in its lawsuit, which was filed in state court Thursday, that the family of State Police Sgt. Randall Wetzel was targeted after it became public that he shot and killed 28-year-old Maurice Gordon during a traffic stop May 23.
The union said “current and former STFA members are very concerned that releasing the identities of current and former troopers who have been disciplined will subject them to the same criminal conduct or worse,” according to the lawsuit as cited from NorthJersey.com.
In his June 15 order, Grewal compelled New Jersey’s state, county and local law enforcement agencies to publish an annual list of officers who were fired, demoted or suspended for more than five days. He asked that the first list be published before Dec. 31.
Grewal and Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, also announced that a list of state troopers who have committed major disciplinary violations in the past 20 years would be published before July 15.
“For decades, New Jersey has not disclosed the identities of law enforcement officers who commit serious disciplinary violations,” Grewal said in the order. “Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement.”
In addition to opening officers up to harassment and embarrassment, the union argued in its lawsuit that the order could have other consequences, including allowing the public to identify family members of those disciplined for domestic violence, as well as those disciplined for substance abuse issues, according to NorthJersey.com.
“Releasing this information may also deter troopers who do have an alcohol dependency from voluntarily coming forward or from seeking treatment,” the union said in the suit.
Before filing the lawsuit, the union also addressed Grewal’s plan to release troopers’ names in a June 19 letter to New Jersey citizens.