Please consider this a formal request under the Open Public Records Act and common law right to know for the following:
• the unredacted Use of Force reports for incidents occurring in the calendar years 2017 and 2018 from your municipality’s police department
• annual use of force reports (or each quarterly reports for the entire year, if annual is not required) as submitted to the county prosecutor’s office
• professional standards annual reports (or each quarterly reports for the entire year, if annual is not required) as submitted to the county prosecutor’s office.
We are entitled to these unredacted reports under N.J.S.A. 47:1A3(b) as a result of the state Supreme Court ruling on July 11, 2017, in the case North Jersey Media Group v. Lyndhurst. The court wrote in its opinion, “The law calls for disclosure of ‘the identity of the investigating and arresting personnel’ and adds that the exception on which defendants rely ‘shall be narrowly construed.’”
Under that ruling, the court also ruled that "OPRA’s criminal investigatory records exception does not apply to records that are “required by law to be made, maintained or kept on file.” N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1. As a result, the exemption does not cover Use of Force Reports, which the Attorney General requires officers to prepare after the use of deadly force.”
Therefore, this request cannot be denied under the exemption of an “ongoing investigation” since they are required under the Attorney General’s Use of Force Policy, which has “the force of law for police entities.” (NJMG v. Lyndhurst) If your agency chooses to deny, citing safety concerns, please provide a statement for each incident stating why officer or officers’ names “will jeopardize the safety of any person . . . or any investigation in progress” or “would be harmful to a bona fide law enforcement purpose or the public safety.” (NJMG v. Lyndhurst)
Please email scanned digital copies of the unredacted original Use Of Force forms as PDFs. If the file is too large, we will accept a CD with the requested documents mailed to the address above. We will not accept paper records. We understand subject information may be subject to redactions if their information is protected under other statues, such as HIPPA or juveniles.
Under penalty of N.J.S.A. 2C:283, I certify that I have not been convicted of any indictable offense under the laws of New Jersey, or any other state, or in the United States. Please note, this request clearly notes New Jersey’s Open Public Record Act, therefore does not need to be on local OPRA forms. We reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information. I look forward to your reply via email. We request all correspondence referencing this OPRA be via email.