Police officials in Paterson sue New Jersey attorney general over state takeover of department

Top Paterson police officials have filed a lawsuit against New Jersey’s attorney general, accusing him of overstepping his authority with the takeover of the police department in the state’s third-largest city.

Attorney General Matthew Platkin put the 300-plus officer Paterson police department under state supervision in March, less than a month after officers there shot and killed a well-known crisis intervention worker during a tense standoff. Platkin didn’t mention the shooting of 31-year-old Najee Seabrooks but cited a “crisis of confidence in law enforcement” as the office had assumed control of all police functions, including the division that investigates internal police matters.

While New Jersey’s constitution gives the state attorney general direct supervision of county prosecutors and police chiefs, Paterson’s police chief and acting police director argue in a complaint filed in Passaic County Superior Court that the state takeover “exceeds the bounds of their statutory and constitutional authority,” NJ.com reported.

Platkin spokesperson Sharon Lauchaire called the suit “as unfortunate as it is meritless,” telling NJ.com in an email that the attorney general’s authority to supersede local law enforcement agencies “is well established — and given the history in Paterson, the need to do so was clear.”

  • October 10, 2023
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