Woodbridge, NJ PD Citizen Complaints

Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer filed this request with the Woodbridge Police Department of Woodbridge, NJ.
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From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Open Public Records Act ("OPRA"), I hereby request the following records:

We are Economics Professors in the College of Business at Ferris State University, and are engaged in an empirical research project on police behavior and citizen complaints. This project requires us to request data from your department. If you have questions about this request or suggestions, we would be happy to discuss them with you.

1. What is the total number of citizen complaints (allegations of misconduct) made against your department’s officers annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead.

Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

2. What is the total number of complaints police officers made against their peer officers (sometimes called internal complaints) in department annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead.

Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

3. How many officer-involved-shootings were there per year for the last 10 years in your department? Any documentation or reports that detail the annual number of officer-involved shootings in your department for the past 10 years would be sufficient.

Please include documentation regarding how many of these officer-involved shootings involved disciplinary action. (Please list officer firearm discharge directed at a person separately from a shooting involving an animal and separately from accidental firearm discharges).

Please include the number of officer-involved shootings resulting in discipline.

4. Which of the above data are published publicly? Please provide a link to any and all publicly available reports containing the data above.

Collecting this information is very important to our research, so we would like to emphasize, if you have questions about my request or suggestions, we would be happy to discuss them with you.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 7 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

From: KUZMA, SCOTT

Greetings Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer:

Woodbridge Township is in receipt of your Open Public Records Request ("OPRA") 2017-220 dated August 22, 2017. A request pursuant to the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., must identify the records sought with specificity. Bart v. Passaic County Pub. Hous. Agency, 406 N.J. Super. 445, 451 (App. Div. 2009). "Wholesale requests for general information to be analyzed, collated and compiled by the responding government entity are not encompassed" within the Open Public Records Act. See MAG Entertainment, LLC vs. Division of Alcohol Beverage Control, 375, N.J. Super. 534, 549 (App. Div. 2005). OPRA "is not intended as a research tool litigants may use to force government officials to identify and siphon useful information." Id. at 546; see also, Bent v. Stafford Twp. Police Dept., 381 N.J. Super. 30, 37-39 (App. Div. 2005) (noting that OPRA allows requests for specific records, not requests for information, data or statistics). As such, requests for "any and all" documents on a specific subject are considered overly broad. Bent, supra, 381 N.J. Super. at 37. Moreover, a custodian may reject a request that is overly broad or vague so as to prevent identification of the records sought. New Jersey Builders Ass'n v. New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, 390 N.J. Super. 166, 172 (App. Div. 2007).

The New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requires that your request identify the specific and identifiable government record(s) being sought and not refer generally for information or answers to questions. Your request does not do so. However, Woodbridge Township has reviewed your request and can provide the following records which may be responsive and suit your needs:

1. What is the total number of citizen complaints (allegations of misconduct) made against your department's officers annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead. Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

Woodbridge Township maintains annual Internal Affairs summary reports. Reports for 2007 through 2016 are provided.

2. What is the total number of complaints police officers made against their peer officers (sometimes called internal complaints) in department annually for the last 10 years? If your department logs complaints in a database, spreadsheet, or other log, a copy of those logs is fine instead. Please include the type of complaint (i.e., use of force, abuse language, unwarranted search) and the result of complaint (i.e., sustained, exonerated).

The records you requested to not exist. Woodbridge Township does not maintain a report specifically for peer complaints. Peer complaints are reported as part of the annual summary reports provided in Item #1.

3. How many officer-involved-shootings were there per year for the last 10 years in your department? Any documentation or reports that detail the annual number of officer-involved shootings in your department for the past 10 years would be sufficient. Please include documentation regarding how many of these officer-involved shootings involved disciplinary action. (Please list officer firearm discharge directed at a person separately from a shooting involving an animal and separately from accidental firearm discharges). Please include the number of officer-involved shootings resulting in discipline.

The records you requested to not exist. Woodbridge Township does not maintain a list of officer involved shootings.

4. Which of the above data are published publicly? Please provide a link to any and all publicly available reports containing the data above.
This is a question and not a request for records. Please visit the Woodbridge Township webpage at www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us<http://www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us>

You have a right to appeal this decision in New Jersey Superior Court or to the Government Records Council as provided by N.J.S.A. 47:1-A-1 et seq. Please contact me with any questions.

Captain Scott Kuzma
Commander - Professional Standards Division
Woodbridge Police Department
1 Main Street
Woodbridge, NJ 07095
scott.kuzma@twp.woodbridge.nj.us<mailto:scott.kuzma@twp.woodbridge.nj.us>
(732) 726-2314 Direct
(732) 726-2302 Fax

The information transmitted in this communication is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged information. Any review, retransmission, dissemination, copying or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon this information, or any part thereof, by persons other than the intended recipient, is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you received this in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete and destroy this communication and all copies thereof, including all attachments.

PRIVACY NOTICE:

This e-mail, including attachments, may include privileged, confidential and/or proprietary information, and may be used only by the person or entity to which it is addressed. If the reader of this e-mail is not the intended recipient or his or her authorized agent, the reader is hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender by replying to this message and delete this e-mail immediately.

WARNING: Email received by or sent to Township officials is subject to the Open Public Records Act [OPRA]. This means that absent some specific privilege, all such communications are considered a public record and are subject to publication and/or dissemination to the public upon request.

From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

Hello,

Thank you for sending these documents.

Regarding #2 of our request, some police departments use the terms "internal complaints" to describe what we are seeking. Do you have any information on the total number of internal complaints made in your department, per year, during the last 10 years?

Respectfully,
Alex Cartwright

From: KUZMA, SCOTT

Hi Alex,

Woodbridge accepts complaints from anyone regarding police misconduct. All complaints are assigned and investigated. Woodbridge does not maintain a count of complaints received from internal vs. external sources.

From: Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

Hi,

Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Alexander Cartwright and Jennifer Dirmeyer

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