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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Racial profiling audits to end

What has been a sordid chapter in New Jersey's history could soon be over following the recent recommendation from members of a state advisory board, who have called on the Department of Justice to end a monitoring program implemented in resonse to the racial profiling controversy of the 1990s.

The Governor's Advisory Committee on Police Standards made the recommendation Friday, citing good marks received by the State Police from the federal monitors charged with keeping an eye on the organization after several well-publicized incidents several years ago resulted in the 1999 consent decree that laid out the countermeasures.

The decree meant both the State Police and the Attorney General office had to operate under the supervision of the United States District Court for New Jersey and an independent monitoring teams.

The committee's report said the group found the state organizations have made significant progress in eliminating the problem of racial profiling, to the point where they feel confident in making a recommendation for the end of the consent decree.

Some of the racially-charged incidents leading up to the issuing of the decree included the infamous Jenny Hightower incident, in which Trenton police killed the 14-year old while intervening in an apparent carjacking in 1999.

That same year, two state troopers were indicted for falsifying arrest and investigation records in an attempt to hide racial profiling, before they were indicted again for opening fire and wounding three young black men on the New Jersey Turnpike, after the men's van accidentally went into reverse during the traffic stop.

Following the recommendation, the Department of Justice could move to remove the decree sometime this year.

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