N.J. State Police Implement Stricter DWI Policies
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey State Police have implemented stricter policies regarding alcohol-related motor vehicle incidents involving troopers.
And agency officials have launched an extensive review on the use of undercover identification cards by troopers.
The directives from Supt. Rick Fuentes were included in an order that was recently distributed to the command staff of the 2,900-member force. It increases accountability for ranking officers, requiring them to carefully review motor vehicle stops and accidents in which alcohol use is suspected.
The Star-Ledger of Newark, which obtained a copy of the order, reports such incidents will now receive “multiple layers” of internal review, including a final review by Fuentes.
The policy changes also make regional commanders responsible for ensuring troopers are thoroughly examined for alcohol use, and ranking officers may be required to respond to the scene of alcohol-related incidents.
Fuentes also ordered top commanders in charge of operations and investigations to review “all existing protocols” concerning undercover identification cards and provide him with written recommendations on when they can be presented to police at accidents or motor vehicle stops. Those recommendations were due back to Fuentes on Friday, and it’s not clear if or when the protocols will be modified.
Also, any troopers presenting fictitious credentials will be required to explain themselves to their supervisors.
“Personal safety and the integrity of ongoing covert investigations will be considered in the display of those credentials and whether that action was appropriate at the time and place of the incident,” Fuentes wrote in the memo.
State police have dealt with several alcohol-related incidents in recent years.
And last month, an administrative law judge recommended a seven-month suspension for trooper Sheila McKaig, who was never ticketed even though she was caught drinking and driving three times during a three-month period in 2008.
The judge did not recommend firing McKaig because she sought counseling and is considered a “model trooper.” She remains on duty patrolling the Atlantic City Expressway, and Fuentes will have the final say on whether she is disciplined.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)