WHY SHOULD I REPORT A CRIME OR INCIDENT THAT MIGHT REQUIRE POLICE
INTERVENTION OR INVESTIGATION
All citizens are encouraged to report any type of criminal event or incident that may require
police intervention or investigation. The phrase “If you see something, say something” is a good
rule, regardless of the nature of the offense. You should never assume that the information you
have is either trivial or insignificant, or that someone else has already reported it to the police.
Many crimes are solved when information is gathered from multiple sources and is evaluated
collectively by the police department. They become parts of the puzzle that may lead to the
successful conclusion of an investigation.
Accurate reporting of such crimes/incidents not only helps the victim, but can lead to the
identification and apprehension of the suspect as well as providing the police administration
useful information that can be utilized to help identify crime trends and patterns. These patterns
impact their decisions regarding the allocation of personnel. Therefore, without an accurate
accounting of actual crime, the ability of the police department to prevent crimes in the future
may be significantly hampered. Consequently, additional citizens may be victimized by the
HOW DO I REPORT A CRIME?
WHAT IF I AM THE VICTIM OF A CRIME?
Whenever you wish to report a crime or an incident that you feel the police should know about,
the first step is to contact the police department where the incident occurred. Regardless of the
nature of the offense, you should not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Your actions may prevent
the victimization of others.
The police department is responsible for conducting the initial investigation. If the investigation
involves serious crimes or incidents that may involve multiple jurisdictions, the police
department will contact the Prosecutor’s Office, who will evaluate the facts known at that
particular time and make a determination if a joint investigation will be initiated.
WHAT IF I WANT TO REPORT A BIAS INCIDENT OR BIAS CRIME?
You should notify and file a police report the police department where the incident occurred.
Once the report is made, the police department will make a determination as to whether or not
the incident qualifies as a bias crime pursuant to the Criminal Code of the State of NJ. The
police department is also required to forward all such reports to the Prosecutor’s Office Bias
Crime Unit for additional review. The Prosecutor’s Office will make a final determination as to
whether or not the incident qualifies as a bias crime pursuant to the Criminal Code.
WHAT IF I WITNESS A CRIME OR HAVE INFORMATION RELATED TO A CRIME?
If you witness a crime, and the police respond to conduct an initial investigation, you are
encouraged to step forward to notify the investigating officer(s) as to what you saw. If you do
not feel comfortable with stepping forward at the scene, you should call the police department at
your earliest possible convenience and ask to speak to a detective from that agency.
WHAT IF I WISH TO REPORT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
In drafting the domestic violence law, the legislature recognized some of the difficulties victims
had in seeking protection. As a result, the law gives the victims of domestic violence expanded
If you wish to report an incident involving domestic violence, you may go to the police
department where the incident occurred, where the victim resides or is sheltered, or where the
The victim is encouraged to file the police report. Many police departments have Domestic
Violence Crisis Intervention Teams on call. These teams offer counseling services and referrals,
help guide the victim thru the legal process, and provide guidance in securing a restraining order,
WHAT IF I WANT TO MAKE A REPORT ALLEGING OFFICER MISCONDUCT?
All complaints of officer misconduct shall be accepted from all persons who wish to file a
complaint regardless of the hour or day of the week. This includes reports from anonymous
sources, juveniles and persons under arrest or in custody. Complaints should be accepted by any
law enforcement officer in the event that an Internal Affairs officer or supervisory personnel are
not available. Anonymous reports of improper conduct by an officer shall be accepted. All
efforts will be made to encourage full cooperation by the complainant.
Citizens should submit their complaints as soon as possible after the incident. The Internal
Affairs investigator, supervisor, or other officer receiving the complaint will explain to the
complainant the department’s internal affairs process, what role the complainant can expect to
play, and the disciplinary procedures that may arise. Upon request, the complainant will be kept
informed of the status of the complaint. In all cases, the complainant will be advised in writing of
its ultimate disposition.
Although there are complaints against officers that are legitimate and based upon facts, there are
others that are contrived and maliciously pursued, often with the intent to neutralize legal action
taken against the complainant by an officer. The law enforcement agency must fully and
impartially investigate the former, while taking a strong stand to minimize the latter. The law
enforcement agency should notify the County Prosecutor in any case where a complainant has
fabricated or intentionally misrepresented material facts to initiate a complaint of officer
If a person comes to a particular law enforcement agency to make a complaint about a member
of another law enforcement agency, he or she will be referred to the agency. If the complainant
has fears or concerns about making the complaint, he or she should be go to the County
Prosecutor’s Office where the officer is employed .
All complaints should be investigated, as long as there is sufficient factual information to
warrant an investigation. All relevant facts known to the complainant should be told to the
officer taking the complaint. Complaints will be professionally, objectively and expeditiously
investigated in order to gather all information necessary to arrive at a proper disposition. After a
thorough and impartial investigation, a decision will be made as to the proper disposition of the
It is important that the Internal Affairs officer document all citizen concerns, even those which
might appear to be unfounded or frivolous. This will avoid citizen dissatisfaction and the
impression of insensitivity by the agency to the concerns of the community.
The possible dispositions include:
1 Exonerated: The alleged incident did occur, but the actions of the officer were justified, legal
2 Sustained: The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to prove the allegation, and the
actions of the officer violated a provision of the agency’s rules and regulations or procedures.
3 Sustained : The investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to prove the allegation, and the
actions of the officer are determined to be a violation of the Criminal Code of the State of
4 Not Sustained : The investigation failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove or
disprove the allegation.
5 Unfounded: The alleged incident did not occur.