Township of Teaneck, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
There is hereby created a Civilian Complaint Review Board (hereafter CCRB) as an agency of the Township of Teaneck. The purpose of the CCRB is to receive and investigate the complaints of citizens alleging police misconduct in the following enumerated areas and, upon a determination that reasonable cause exists, to refer the grievance to the appropriate disciplinary authority and/or law enforcement agency.
(a) 
The CCRB shall have jurisdiction to receive, investigate and report the complaint of any person, whether or not a resident of the Township, against a police officer of the Township, if, and only if, the complaint, under oath, alleges one or more of the following:
(1) 
Use of unnecessary force: physical force used by a police officer in a situation where the use of such force is not justified under the circumstances.
(2) 
Use of excessive force: in a situation which calls for the use of force, greater physical force than is reasonably necessary under the circumstances to repel an attacker or terminate resistance.
(3) 
Use of abusive language: use of profane or derogatory language, including racial, ethnic or sexist slurs, which, if heard by a reasonable person under the circumstances, would offend.
(4) 
Harassment: actions or words used to significantly or repetitively restrain or restrict the freedom of movement of a person or to interrogate a person, without reasonable suspicion that a crime, quasi-crime or act of juvenile delinquency has been or is about to be committed by that person or without reasonable suspicion that the person has knowledge of the commission of any such crime, quasi-crime or act of juvenile delinquency.
a. 
It shall be a rebuttable presumption that no harassment is involved if a police officer's interrogation of any person as to his or her identification or purpose is in response to a police profile of a wanted person or in response to a citizen's complaint about a disturbance of the peace or suspicious behavior, and the individual being interrogated has been identified or matches a description furnished by the police profile or complaining citizen.
b. 
It shall be a rebuttable presumption that no harassment is involved if a police officer observes an unlawful assembly as described in Section 26-27 of the Township Code.
(b) 
The CCRB's jurisdiction shall not become operative, or shall terminate after it becomes operative, if, at any time the complainant initiates a civil suit or criminal complaint against the police officer, alleging the same or similar misconduct relating to the same transaction or occurrence; the complainant lodges an independent complaint against the police officer with the Internal Affairs Officer of the Police Department or the Chief of Police or the Township Manager, alleging the same or similar misconduct relating to the same transaction or occurrence; or the Police Department or the Township Manager, on their own initiative, commence a disciplinary review of the police officer's conduct in the matter complained of or refer the matter to the County Prosecutor for criminal investigation. As used herein, "disciplinary review" means that specific charges have been filed against the police officer which could result in a suspension or other form of formal discipline, as contemplated by N.J.S.A. 40A:14-147.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
(a) 
The CCRB shall consist of five regular members and two alternate members. Three of the regular members and the two alternate members shall be chosen by the Township Council. One of the regular members shall be chosen by the Township Manager and one of the regular members shall be chosen by the president of the Teaneck Chapter of the Patrolmens' Benevolent Association.
(b) 
All regular and alternate members shall be chosen by the respective appointing authority based upon their known and consistent reputation for integrity, impartiality and fair mindedness. They shall be residents of the Township and may be officers or employees of the Township. All vacancies shall be filled by the respective appointing authority for the unexpired term of the appointee's predecessor.
(c) 
Alternate members may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence, disqualification or vacancy in office of a regular member. The appointing authority shall designate the alternates as "No. 1" and "No. 2." In the event that a choice must be made as to which alternate member is to vote, Alternate No. 1 shall vote.
(d) 
The Chief of Police is authorized to submit applicant fingerprint cards and receive state criminal history record information from the Division of State Police, State Bureau of Identification, for use in considering the suitability of all applicants covered under this article. All requested criminal history record checks will be subject to the state's required user fee.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1; Ord. No. 3329, 4-28-1992, § 1.]
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
Members shall serve without compensation, provided that the Township Council may authorize reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred by the members in the performance of their duties.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
The term of each regular member shall be for five years; provided, however, that the regular members first appointed after the effective date of this article shall serve for one, two, three, four and five years respectively, as determine by lot at the first regularly scheduled meeting following the adoption of this article. The term of each alternate member shall be for two years. Each regular and alternate member shall continue to serve in such capacity until the member's successor has been duly appointed and is acting.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
If a regular member fails to attend four consecutive meetings of the CCBB, without being excused by a majority of the five members of the CCBB, that position shall be deemed to be vacant. Absences due to legitimate illness shall not be deemed to be absences giving rise to a default vacancy hereunder. In the event of a default vacancy, the appointing authority shall be notified in writing by the CCBB.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
The regular members shall elect from among the regular members a Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson who shall serve in such capacities for one year or until their successors are duly elected. In case of a vacancy in either of these positions, the regular members shall elect a successor, who shall serve the unexpired balance of the predecessor's term.
(a) 
The Manager shall provide the CCRB with facilities for the conduct of its business and the preservation of its records and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary. All necessary expenses incurred by the CCRB shall be paid, upon certification of the Chairperson and the Chief Financial Officer, within the limits of funds appropriated by the Township Council by annual or emergency appropriations for those purposes.
(b) 
The Manager shall provide support staff and clerical staff, as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this article, within the limits of funds appropriated by the Township Council by annual or emergency appropriations for those purposes. Unless or until the CCRB determines and recommends to the Township Council that independent counsel is necessary, the Township Public Defender shall serve as legal counsel to the CCRB.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1.]
To effectuate its purpose, the CCRB shall:
(a) 
Receive, investigate and hear complaints within its jurisdiction, in accordance with the following guidelines:
(1) 
All complaints shall be filed with the Township Clerk and must be in writing, on forms supplied by the CCRB. Complaints shall be signed by the complainant or a duly authorized representative, under oath. A copy of each complaint filed with the Township Clerk shall immediately be forwarded to the officer being accused, Chief of Police and the Township Manager. As used herein, "duly authorized representative" shall mean legal counsel or a person acting under a power-of-attorney.
(2) 
No complaint shall be accepted for investigation by the CCRB if it is not filed with the Township Clerk within 10 days of the date of the alleged misconduct, unless the complainant establishes to the satisfaction of the CCRB that the failure to file the complaint within the required time limit was due to a medical emergency, as certified by a licensed physician.
(3) 
The CCRB shall determine whether to initiate an investigation. Despite the filing of a complaint under oath, the CCRB shall have the discretion not to initiate an investigation, based upon criteria that it may establish from time to time and enforce on a uniform, nondiscriminatory basis.
(4) 
In the event that a complaint is timely filed but contains an irregularity, the CCRB, in its discretion, can decide to exercise jurisdiction in the event that the complaint is refiled, without irregularity, within 10 days of the Board's initial determination.
(5) 
The standard of proof in reaching a finding or conclusion shall be clear and convincing evidence. "Clear and convincing evidence" is that which produces, in the minds of the CCRB members, a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established. It must be so clear, direct and weighty as to enable the CCRB to come to the clear conviction, without hesitancy, of the truth of the precise facts in issue.
(6) 
All hearings conducted by the CCRB shall be closed to the public. The complainant, police officer and all other witnesses shall be questioned by the CCRB members and staff attorney only. Cross-examination of witnesses by the complainant, the accused officer or their counsel is prohibited since the role of the CCRB is investigatory only and the CCRB lacks authority to prefer formal charges or discipline the officer.
(7) 
A determination by the CCRB shall be finalized in writing as follows:
a. 
Exonerated: the action for which the allegation of misconduct was made did occur; however, investigation reveals that the action was justified, lawful and proper.
b. 
Substantiated: the investigation disclosed enough evidence to clearly and convincingly prove the allegation of misconduct.
c. 
Not sustained: the investigation failed to reveal and document enough evidence to clearly and convincingly prove or disprove the allegation.
d. 
Unfounded: the investigation proved conclusively that the incident complained of did not occur or that the accused officer was not involved.
(8) 
A finding of substantiated, accompanied by an investigative report of the CCRB, shall be distributed to the accused officer, the Township Manager and the Chief of Police. The Township Council and the complainant shall be informed of the CCRB's determination in a summary fashion by the CCRB or the Manager, but the investigative report shall not be distributed to the Township Council or the complainant and shall remain confidential, unless the accused officer agrees to waive its confidentiality. A finding of exonerated, not substantiated or unfounded shall be communicated to the Township Council and the complainant in a summary fashion by the CCRB or the Manager.
(9) 
Nothing herein contained shall preclude the Township Council from initiating a separate investigation of the accused officer's conduct, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-118 or N.J.S.A. 40:69A-91.
(b) 
Within 60 days of the appointment of at least a majority of the membership of the CCRB, it shall adopt rules of procedure and bylaws not inconsistent herewith.
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1; Ord. No. 3368, 9-28-1993, § 1]
[Ord. No. 3317, 12-3-1991, § 1]
The CCRB shall only accept, investigate, hear and review complaints and appeals regarding incidents which occur on or after the effective date of this article.