West Orange police to be retrained in wake of controversial police training seminar report

No West Orange officers were believed to have attended the 2021 seminar, but the retraining is a precautionary measure.

Naomi Yané

Dec 13, 2023, 3:22 AM

Updated 195 days ago

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An Essex County police department will retrain all of its officers in the wake of a state comptroller's investigation into a police training seminar that took place in Atlantic City in 2021.
The investigation found that the seminar taught unconstitutional policing tactics, and found that nearly 1,000 police officers attended the meeting - 240 of them from New Jersey and cost New Jersey taxpayers $75,000.
Street Cop Training, a private police training company, held a weeklong conference where they taught unconstitutional policing tactics, glorified violence, and made disparaging comments about women and minorities, according to a recently released report from the State Comptroller’s Office.
News 12 New Jersey spoke with Joe Johnson, policy council for the American Civil Liberties Union. He says though heartbreaking to watch, it validates the experience people of color have had with police for years.
"The illegal and unconstitutional trainings that they’re seeing are the everyday occurrences, the everyday interactions that they have with the local police,” Johnson says.
West Orange Police Chief James Abbott is taking precautionary measures in the event any officer may have attended the training on their own dime, although West Orange was not mentioned in the comptroller's report.
"It’s just so much safer to ensure everybody’s retrained - properly retrained - all ranks, no exceptions. Everybody learns it the right way,” Abbot says.
Chief Abbott says New Jersey’s police training is far ahead compared to other states and that was evident in days after the George Floyd murder. He says officers can attend training on their own time, but they have to be vetted.
"I want them to do police work, but they have to do it constitutionally. They have to do it consistently. They have to do it compassionately…you can’t just go out there and make things up,” the chief says.
Johnson says it's a step in the right direction.
"It’s a good step, but at the end of the day, it’s going to take a lot more than just a little retraining to kind of undo the hundreds of years of bad faith that has occurred,” he says.
Abbott says retraining will start in 2024. Everyone has to do a minimum of 40 hours every year.


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