ACLU-NJ files lawsuit against state police over open record rules

TRENTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed suit against the state police claiming the agency violated open record laws.

The civil rights organization claims the New Jersey State Police violated state open record laws when it denied a resident’s request for records regarding promotion policies within the agency, according to the ACLU state chapter.

Richard Rivera, who requested documents on behalf of the Civil Rights Protection Project of the Latino Leadership Alliance, was denied access to documents requested under the state’s Open Public Records Act, OPRA, according to the ACLU. Rivera requested access to policies and procedures that detail the criteria of the agency’s promotion process.

“The State Police is operating in virtual secrecy with no accountability to the public it serves,” Rivera said in a statement. “The public has an interest and a right to know what types of policies determine why some officers get promoted, including whether those policies favor one racial or ethnic group over another.”

The ACLU says the state police denied Rivera’s request because it was too broad, citing newly adopted regulations that allow the state to withhold broad categories of public documents, the group says.

The lawsuit is the second in recent months the ACLU has filed against the New Jersey State Police.

In July, the group challenged the state police in the appellate division and asked the court to invalidate several provisions of the regulations that allow the state to exempt documents such as standard operating procedure and training manuals, employment policies, duty assignments and overtime.

A Hackensack-based law firm, Byalik and Michael Stein of Pashman Stein, represented the ACLU-NJ in both suits.

ACLU-NJ files lawsuit against state police over open record rules