Officials with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are again raising questions about New Jersey State Police Department’s hiring practices after Black recruitment continues to decline. The state attorney general’s office oversees the state police and agreed to take steps to increase the number of Black recruits. But the NAACP says it is tired of waiting and is prepared to take "strong action."
The state police department’s reputation was tarnished in 1998 after the shooting of three unarmed minorities during a traffic stop spurred allegations of widespread racial profiling, prompting federal oversight that remained in place until 2009. In a report released Wednesday, Attorney General Paula Dow lauded the state police for meeting all the terms for exiting the federal monitoring program, including improving awareness training for troopers on racial profiling. But the NAACP says those efforts are only beneficial if there are more African-Americans on the force. Only five of 123 new recruits in the current class are Black. The NAACP plans to send a letter to the attorney general’s office in response and is prepared to take legal action if the numbers don’t improve.
"We just decided that enough was enough, and we decided we'd sit down and fix the problem," George Gore, political action chairman of the NAACP's New Jersey chapter, told Associated Press. The organization has a consent decree in place against the state police from a previous lawsuit. Gore said it requires good-faith efforts to recruit Blacks, and "they have not lived up to that.”
Dow’s office has said budget cuts have affected the money it has for recruitment efforts. Retirements of Black officers and competition for qualified minority candidates among law enforcement agencies have also made an impact. The state police department has seen an increase in other minority applicants, including Latinos, Asians and women.
(Photo: REUTERS/Kyle Carter)