Lakewood Police Audit Reveals Issues With Internal Affairs Procedures

Photo courtesy The Lakewood Scoop

LAKEWOOD – Following complaints regarding the operations and apparent failures of the Internal Affairs (IA) Unit of the Lakewood Police Department, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office (OCPO) conducted an audit investigation into the matter, finding issue with the operations of the unit.

“This audit was the result of a complaint they received regarding ‘its operations, failure to complete investigations, as well as failure to provide the information necessary for the annual public report.’ As result, issues were revealed and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office made several recommendations,” stated Police Chief Gregory Meyer in a post on the department’s website.

The OCPO Internal Affairs Unit “supervises and assists the Internal Affairs Units of the Ocean County municipal police departments,” and makes sure they comply with the NJ Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Policy and Procedure, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

In a letter addressed to Chief Meyer, dated May 14, 2018, Prosecutor Coronato explained that the OCPO has a responsibility to ensure that municipal police departments are adhering to this protocol as well as to investigate any and all complaints.

In the audit of the Lakewood IA Unit, the OCPO found issues within the operations of the unit and provided recommendations to the department in order to remain consistent with the Attorney General’s policies.

The letter outlined that IA must investigate misconduct reported from anyone, even anonymous persons, and report it to the Chief and the prosecutor.

The Prosecutor’s Office’s “recommendations” were as follows:

  • The Commander of Internal Affairs report directly to the Chief of Police, unless otherwise directed, presenting a completed investigative report.
  • Municipal officials should not direct or participate in IA investigations unless consulted by the Chief.
  • IA officers must have investigative experience or attend an OCPO Internal Affairs training course.
  • IA must accept reports of misconduct from any person, even anonymous.
  • IA Unit must notify officers of complaints and outcomes of investigations.
  • The prosecutor must be notified if an investigation indicates possible criminal action by an officer, use of force by an officer resulting in death or injury, or accusations of domestic violence or restraining orders related to any officers.
  • IA must submit quarterly reports to the prosecutor for the countywide IA public report.

“The Lakewood Police Department recognizes that effective police service depends heavily on the quality of its leadership, the officers who serve and citizen confidence,” stated Chief Meyer. “It was with that in mind that we have welcomed the suggested practices from the Ocean County Prosecutors Office and have already made significant changes, including the reassignment of personnel.”

Two officers, Sgt. Summer Cunliffe and Capt. Glenn Clayton have been reassigned to other duties; however, they have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Lt. Gregory Staffordsmith, also a spokesperson for the Lakewood PD, is now Commander of the IA Unit.