As a member of the United States’ disciplined military, the New Jersey State Police is required to carry out its duties in an impartial way consistent with the values of public administration. Ethics may be characterized as a collection of rules that regulate the intended moral behavior of a particular institution. The incorporation of ethics in public policy is important because it ensures that members of the public receive all benefits that they may need in a timely and sufficient manner. In addition, it enhances accountability by making the members of the organization exercise integrity, hence, making it possible for them to win the trust of the community members. Nevertheless, even though the New Jersey State Police are expected to maintain a high degree of ethics while running their day to day duties, there is sufficient evidence that depicts that this has not been the case for quite a long period. Various cases of racial profiling have been reported within the police force, whereby some of the law enforcers have accused their seniors of racial discrimination more so when it comes to promotions, training, disciplining and while assigning the police officers to special assignments (Holzer et al., 2015).
As a means of upholding ethical practices, the police force is obligated to offer equal employment opportunities to all members of the society (Holzer et al., 2015). However, there have been cases of employment discrimination against the Black and the Hispanic Americans. Even though the New Jersey State Police was established in 1921 – as a paramilitary unit – its first black trooper was employed in 1961 (New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 199). While attending the New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus – a commission that had been established to investigate the cases of racial profiling within the New Jersey’ State Police force – McLemore (the first black trooper to be employed in the security force) pointed out that he was frequently harassed and discriminated against the others due to his race. He presented some flyers that were printed in the barracks and distributed among his colleagues. According to him, the flyers referred to the Blacks as coons and monkeys, which is a form of degradation of the human life depending on one’s race. In addition, McLemore recounted various uncouth practices and acts that were met on him, which created a hostile working environment for him. In 1992, the Consent Decree was done away with, which implied that the New Jersey State Police force was no longer monitored and under the oversight of the Department of Justice. As a result, various cases of racial profiling started being reported. People from the minority races were denied recruitment opportunities into the security organ while those who were already employed were denied fair and equal treatment in relation to the employment terms and conditions ((New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 1999). Satin is of the opinion that the police force in New Jersey is dominated by the Whites since 3063 of the troopers are Caucasians while 449 come from the blacks and Hispanic communities (Satin, 2008). The level of racial hostility was further heightened by the State’s Police authorities’ refusal to reenlist the Black troopers after their completion of four or two years of service. In 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People (NACCP) claimed that the number of the black people who had been enrolled for recruitment into the police force was significantly lower than that of the Whites. According to a report released by the NACCP, out of the 123 recruits who had qualified to join the disciplined force, only five of them came from the minority groups (Minority News, 2017). Even though NACCP claimed that the State was not giving them enough attention on how the matter should be resolved, the Office of the Attorney General argued that most of the candidates from the Minority groups were not qualified to join the police force. Also, the troopers union pointed out that there was a secret system that was used to award scores to the candidates depending on their performance on written tests, which might have excluded a significant number of the recruits from the minority groups from the recruitment process.
In addition, there have also been cases of discriminations in relation to one’s race in matters pertaining promotion of employees within the New Jersey State police (Holzer et al., 2015). According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, one way of upholding ethics in any organization is making sure that all the employees are subjected to the same terms of promotion (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2000). By having a standard code that dictates how the workers will be promoted, an organization is not only in a position to motivate them to work hard, but also it is capable of enhancing transparency in all its affairs more so the ones that are related to the employees’ affairs. The security officers have also reported cases of bias in promotional procedures within the New Jersey State Police (Holzer et al., 2015). On 15th July 2008, twenty-three troopers filed a lawsuit against the security organ for discriminating them depending on their races while dealing with promotional matters. According to the lawsuit, some of the troopers have worked as security enforcers with the agency for more than twenty years and have even been awarded various distinctions because of their exemplary performance. Unfortunately, none of them had been awarded a promotion above the rank of being a sergeant (Santi, 2008). The troopers also argued that even though they had passed their complaints to heads of the agency, no action had been taken, which led to the continuous existence of the practice over the years. They noted that the system of promotion was skewed in favor of the Caucasians. The supervisors – who were mandated to prepare a list of all the troopers who were eligible for a promotion – had formulated a subjective scoring system that ensured the White troopers gained the highest marks, thus, increasing their chances of being promoted to higher ranks. Santi notes that among all the employees who have been promoted to the rank of being a sergeant or higher, 57 are Hispanic, 102 are black while 855 are whites (Santi, 2008). Therefore, the troopers wanted the police agency to be ordered to formulate a new system of promotions and to be compensated in terms of damage and legal fees they had incurred while in service. During the public hearings initiated by the New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, former troopers from New Jersey argued that the State’s police force was an organization that was in disarray as it was managed through intimidation, fear, and racial stereotyping (New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 1999). The witness claimed that any trooper who raised his/her voice against the discriminatory practices was subjected to harsh disciplinary measures, he/she was also denied re-enlistment into the force or was even deemed as an ‘enemy of the state,’ thus, he/she was considered to be unfit to continue serving in the force (New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 1999). According to Mr. Philip Moran – who represented Vincent Bellaran, a trooper, during the hearings – the police force in New Jersey lacked a clear promotional procedure. He argued that the promotion of the troopers was a backroom affair, where the results were pre-determined since it is a ‘good-old-boys network’ that is centered in favoring and awarding the white troopers. Moran was of the opinion that the promotions were enacted by a group of the station commanders who decided which trooper should be awarded a promotion depending on their feelings towards him. After that, the commanders would award the selected troopers some marks as a means of justifying their decision to award him with a promotion (New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 1999). In addition, the commission revealed that the troopers from the minority races were constantly denied the positions that would enable them to play a significant role in the policy-making process within the police force. Besides, their requests to be engaged in assignments that would enable them to get a promotion were also turned down by senior officers within the police agency (New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, 1999). Phillip Moran also claimed that any trooper from the minority groups who stood against the discriminative practices within the police agency was subjected to a severe disciplinary mechanism.
Basing my argument on the above analysis, I propose that the following recommendations be implemented;
a) A police oversight body whose primal role will be to carry out investigations and initiate prosecutions of all security officers who are found practicing racial profiling should be established.
b) The police oversight body should also make sure that all the recruits picked at any time are proportionate to the various populations of the different races in America.
c) Besides, the organization (police oversight board) should be obligated to ascertain that all promotions take place in the right manner, whereby one would get promoted after attaining the laid down conditions.
Even though racial profiling has been in practice for a long time, it can be quickly eliminated through various processes like:
a. Multiple organizations such as NACCP, whose primary objective is to ensure that equality is exercised, should be empowered to make them quite efficient.
b. Since the American Constitution decrees that racial profiling is illegal, any law enforcement officer found to have engaged in the practice should be dismissed from service immediately.
c. A new code that would guide the promotion of the security officers should be formulated and adhered to at all time.
Racial profiling refers to the discrimination of people depending on their race. Even though most organizations have put in place some ethical standards that outlaw racial profiling, the practice has been taking place for quite a long period in New Jersey State Police Agency. As demonstrated by the analysis above, troopers from the minority groups have not only been denied equal employment opportunities into the force, but are also not subjected to a fair promotional system. For instance, the NACCP noted that out of the 123 candidates selected to join the disciplined force in 2017, only five of them hailed from the minority groups. However, authorities from the State differed with the NACCP’s views by claiming that most of the candidates from the marginalized communities were not qualified enough to serve within the police force. The troopers union also claimed that most of them (candidate from the minority communities) were locked out by a secretive system that was used to gauge their performance in some written contests. A public hearing conducted by the New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus revealed that the police agency did not have a favorable system of promoting its employees. During the hearings, it was noted that the promotion system was aimed at benefitting the White troopers. Mr. Moran – a representative of Mr. Vincent Belleran – argued that the decision on who to promote was made up by the station commanders who depended on their feelings towards a given trooper. Any trooper from the minority groups who objected this unfair treatment was severely punished and even denied reenlistment into the police force.
Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2000). Promoting ethics in the public service. Department of Economics and Social Affairs. Retrieved on 4 November 2017, from, https://publicadministration.un.org/publications/content/PDFs/E-Library%20Archives/2000%20Promoting%20Ethics%20in%20the%20Public%20Service.pdf
Holzer, M., & Schwester, R. W. (2015). Public administration: An introduction. Routledge.
New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus. (1999). A report on discriminatory practices within the New Jersey State Police. New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus. Retrieved on 4 November 2017, from, http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/reports/police.pdf
Santi, A.D. (2008). NJ troopers sue State Police. ABC Inc. Retrieved on 4 November 2017, from, http://6abc.com/archive/6266200/