The city of Trenton, New Jersey, and its police force, the Trenton Police Department (TPD), are under investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible civil rights violations. The TPD’s use of force, stops, searches, arrests, and the department’s complaint intake, internal investigation protocols, complaint reviews, adjudications, and disciplinary decisions will all be at the center of the investigation.
Under the guidance of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Department of Justice is collaborating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey to determine if law enforcement officials violated any constitutionally protected rights.
After a thorough assessment of publicly available evidence and other information submitted, the DOJ has decided to launch its investigation into whether or not police officers violated the Constitution and federal law when they used force, stopped motorists and pedestrians, or conducted searches of residences and vehicles. The Department of Justice will also consult with local organizations and residents to collect first-hand accounts of TPD’s effects.
Unions for police in the city and state have responded to the investigation by expressing the hope that it will highlight the critical need for more funding and support for police officers. According to Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, the Trenton police force has worked tirelessly without a contract or adequate working conditions with an extremely committed crew.
Gregg Zeff, a lawyer from Mount Laurel, represents a man who was shot and crippled by Trenton police in February 2022; his client had lived in Burlington City.
According to the lawsuit filed by Henderson’s family, police officers came up to his parked car just after midnight, smashed the driver’s side window, and shot him while he was making a 911 call. Police claimed that 29-year-old Henderson had no identification and would not get out of the car when told he was under arrest.
Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke has claimed that no single incident spurred the investigation and that the Justice Department is not making any allegations of racial prejudice.