An Early Warning System (hereinafter “EW System”) is an important management tool designed to detect patterns and trends in police conduct before that conduct escalates. It can assist law enforcement in identifying and remediating problematic officer conduct that poses a potential risk to the public, to the agency, and to the officer. EW Systems serve to not only increase public safety and public confidence in law enforcement, but also to assist officers through early intervention. The N.J. Attorney General (A.G.), via A.G. Directive #2018-3, has mandated that all law enforcement agencies and prosecuting agencies in the State adopt and implement EW Systems consistent with the policies, procedures, standards and practices described herein.
It is the policy of the Middlesex Borough Police Department to implement and utilize an Early Warning System for tracking and reviewing incidents of risk and an Early Intervention Program to provide timely intervention consistent with Attorney General Guidelines.
A. Performance Indicators
The requisite performance indicators are as follows: 1. Internal affairs complaints against the officer, whether initiated by another officer or by a member of the public; 2. Civil actions filed against the officer; 3. Criminal investigations of or criminal complaints against the officer; (NOTE: If EW System notification to the officer could jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation, the County Prosecutor may in his/her discretion permit delayed notifications to the officer or delayed initiation of the EW System review process.) 4. Any use of force by the officer that is formally determined or adjudicated (e.g., by internal affairs or a grand jury) to have been excessive, unjustified, or unreasonable; 5. Domestic violence investigations in which the officer is the alleged subject; 6. An arrest of the officer, including a driving under the influence charge; 7. Sexual harassment claims against the officer; 8. Vehicular collisions involving the officer that are formally determined to have been the fault of the officer; 9. A positive drug test by the officer; 10. Cases or arrests by the officer that are rejected or dismissed by the court; 11. Cases in which evidence obtained by an officer is suppressed by a court; 12. Insubordination by the officer; 13. Neglect of duty by the officer; and 14. Unexcused absences by the officer
B. Initiation of Early Warning Process
1. Supervisors are responsible for reporting on all aspects of their subordinate’s conduct and different behavior. These reports shall include conduct that is both commendatory and problematic. During that process should a supervisor identify an issue or area of concern, he/she shall initiate an early warning supervisory review through the Office of Internal Affairs/Professional Standards. 2. The Office of Internal Affairs/Professional Standards may initiate an Early Warning System review anytime a pattern of the measurable criteria, performance indicators or other negative behavior (as listed in Section A, above) by a department member becomes evident. 3. The Office of Internal Affairs/ Professional Standards shall initiate an Early Warning System review anytime three separate incidents of performance indicators (as listed in Section A, above) occur within a twelve month period.
C. Administration & Tracking:
The Administration of the EW System is the responsibility of the Internal Affairs/Professional Standards Division. Division Commanders shall be responsible for maintaining a tracking system to enable the agency to identify officers who display the requisite number of performance indicators necessary to trigger the EW System review process. Supervisory officers in the subject officer’s chain of command will also be directly involved in any EW System review process. At least every six (6) months, the EW System Administrator shall audit the agency’s tracking system and records to assess the accuracy and efficacy of the tracking system.
D. Remedial/Corrective Action
1. Triggering of EW System Review Process Once an officer has displayed the requisite number of performance indicators necessary to trigger the EW System review process, assigned supervisory personnel shall immediately initiate remedial action to address the officer’s behavior. 2. A report shall be made to the Chief of Police by the Internal Affairs/Professional Standards Unit outlining any individual and collective patterns of behavior indicating a problem along with recommendations for improvement. 3. Actions to be Taken Upon Initiation of EW System Review Process When an EW System review process is initiated, personnel assigned to oversee the EW System should: a. Formally notify the subject officer, in writing, of the initiation of the review process; b. Conference with the subject officer and appropriate supervisor personnel; c. Develop and administer a remedial program including the appropriate remedial/corrective actions listed below; d. Continue to monitor the subject officer for at least three (3) months, or until the supervisor concludes that the officer’s behavior has been remediated (whichever is longer); e. Document and report findings to the appropriate supervisory personnel and, if warranted, the internal affairs unit. NOTE: Any statement made by the subject officer in connection with an EW System review process may not be used against the subject officer in any disciplinary or other proceeding. 4. Remedial/Corrective Actions The subject officer’s commander or designee and the officer’s supervisor shall meet to discuss the report and other relevant information and determine if corrective actions are warranted. These actions may include but are not limited to the following: a. Training or re-training; b. Counseling; c. Intensive supervision; d. Fitness-for-duty examination; e. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) referral; f. Any other appropriate remedial or corrective action; or g. Conclude that the officer’s actions do not warrant immediate need for corrective action. NOTE: This Directive and EW Systems generally, are focused on timely identification and corrective actions to remediate officer behavior and to provide assistance to the officer and generally does not address disciplinary actions that might be warranted against an officer. Such disciplinary actions – to include the decision to suspend, terminate or, if applicable, charge an officer with criminal conduct – remain within the purview of the agency’s internal affairs function (in consultation with the MCPO) and may be imposed in accordance with existing internal affairs guidelines and applicable law, separate from and independent of the EW System.
1. Periodic reviews of the employee’s improvement plan shall be documented by the employee’s immediate supervisor with notification to the employee’s division commander, the Office of Internal Affairs/Professional Standards, and the Chief of Police. 2. The EW System review, the improvement plan and periodic reviews shall be documented in the Office of Internal Affairs/Professional Standards’ files and the employee’s personnel file.
F. Notification to Subsequent Law Enforcement Employer
If any officer who is or has been subject to an EW System review process applies to or accepts employment at a different law enforcement agency than the one where he/she underwent the EW System review process, it is the responsibility of the prior or current employing law enforcement agency to notify the law enforcement agency considering hiring this individual of the officer’s EW System review process history and outcomes. Upon request, the prior or current employing agency shall share the officer’s EW System review process files with the law enforcement agency considering hiring this individual. (NOTE: It is still incumbent upon law enforcement agencies considering hiring certified law enforcement officers to do their due diligence in conducting the proper background investigation of the prospective hires to determine the employability of the prospective hire. This includes requesting information from the current or past law enforcement employer concerning conduct that would have triggered an EW System review process.)
G. Notification to the County Prosecutor of EW System Review Process
1. Upon initiation of the EW System review process, the Chief of Police or his designee shall make a confidential written notification to the County Prosecutor or his/her designee (MCPO Internal Affairs/Professional Responsibility Unit) of the identity of the subject officer, the nature of the triggering performance indicators and the planned remedial program. The County Prosecutor reserves the right to accept the proposed planned remedial program as is, modify it as he/she sees fit, or reject it outright. 2. Upon completion of the EW System review process, the Chief of Police or his designee shall make confidential written notification to the County Prosecutor or his/her designee of the outcome of the EW System review, including any remedial measure(s) taken on behalf of the officer.
H. Annual Report to the County Prosecutor
By December 31st of each calendar year, the Chief/Director of each law enforcement agency is submit a written report to the County Prosecutor (via the MCPO Internal Affairs/Professional Standards Unit) definitively stating if the agency is in compliance with this Directive. If the agency is not in compliance with this Directive, the Chief/Director shall include a description of the deficiency(ies), the reason for the deficiency(ies) and the action being taken to correct the deficiency(ies).