NEWARK, N.J. – Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig and Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the creation of a joint federal-state Civil Rights Criminal Enforcement Initiative to enhance coordination in the investigation and prosecution of federal, state, and local cases involving civil rights violations by law enforcement officers and others acting under color of law.
The Civil Rights Criminal Enforcement Initiative will combine resources from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, and the FBI in a cooperative approach to criminal civil rights enforcement.
“Our experience tackling violent crime with our state and local partners has taught us well that when it comes to areas of mutual concern – and the unconstitutional use of force and other violations of public trust by members of law enforcement is certainly one of those areas – we accomplish more when we work cooperatively than we do when we go it alone,” Acting U.S. Attorney Honig said. “The initiative that we announce today with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office will ensure that we use all tools available to us to bring worthy cases in the appropriate jurisdiction and to hold accountable all those who would abuse their authority and deprive New Jerseyans of their civil rights.”
“Today’s message is clear: at all levels of government, we’re committed to holding accountable those who abuse their power and violate the civil rights of others,” said Acting New Jersey Attorney General Bruck. “By working together, we can more effectively deploy our resources to ensure that allegations of civil rights violations are investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted. We can and must do more to build trust with the communities we serve, and I’m grateful for an excellent working relationship with Acting U.S. Attorney Honig and my former colleagues at the U.S. Attorney’s Office as we tackle this challenge.”
In recent years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office have identified the criminal enforcement of federal and state civil rights laws as a significant priority. The creation of the Civil Rights Criminal Enforcement Initiative underscores and advances that priority. The initiative will ensure open lines of communication among federal, state, and local partners; permit the simultaneous, rather than sequential, review of evidence by its members; facilitate rapid and efficient decision-making as to the allocation of resources; and foster cooperative decisions regarding the appropriate jurisdiction in which to charge a particular case. Once those decisions have been made, federal, state, and local partners will continue to share case-related information with one another where permissible and provide advice about investigative strategy and best practices. As a result, every case that meets the threshold for prosecution will be brought in the jurisdiction in which that prosecution will have the biggest impact, with the full cooperation and support of all members of the Initiative.
“Our duty to protect American citizens and uphold the Constitution is colorblind,” FBI Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. said. “It doesn’t matter if you wear a blue uniform, a black robe, or street clothes when you go to work; every citizen is entitled to fair and equal treatment under the law. This initiative will further enable the FBI and our state and local law enforcement partners to work together in reviewing and evaluating cases. It should signal to anyone who carries a badge that we are even more committed to earning and keeping the trust instilled in us.”
Complaints of civil rights violations may be made by contacting the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey at (855) 281-3339 or by filing a complaint online. Complaints may also be made by calling the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability at 1-844-OPIA-TIP (1-844-674-2847).