AI, Tasers and more supervision: NJ’s plan to reform the troubled Paterson police department

Paterson’s police department has faced years of corruption and controversy, including deaths in police custody, charges filed this year against an officer who shot a man in the back, federal charges of police brutality, and convictions of officers who robbed residents. Paterson only recently regained control of its internal affairs operations following 17 months of oversight by the Passaic County prosecutor’s office.

Those issues were cited in a letter signed by dozens of organizations and authored by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice — which includes former state Attorney General John J. Farmer and former U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman on its board — alleging Paterson police had engaged in a “pattern and practice of misconduct and impunity that deprives the residents of Paterson of their civil rights.”

Seabrook’s death set of waves of protests in Paterson. Officers pleaded with Seabrooks, who was Black, to come out of a bathroom he locked himself in, body camera footage of the incident shows. The attorney general’s office said in a statement at the time that police eventually shot Seabrooks as he “lunged toward the officers with a knife in his hand.

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