The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office assumed the responsibility for the internal affairs functions of the Paterson police department, announced New Jersey attorney general Gurbir Grewal and Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes on Tuesday morning.
Valdes’s office will have full oversight of the Internal Affairs Division, which is tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct against police officers.
“The people of Paterson deserve a police department worthy of their trust,” said Grewal. “They deserve to know that allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. With today’s action, the Prosecutor’s Office will ensure that happens.”
The announcement comes after two police officers — Kevin Patino and Kendry Tineo-Restituyo – were charged with assaulting a victim and filing a false police report. In all, 10 Paterson police officers have been charged or convicted of corruption since 2018.
Grewal’s announcement states the move will “ensure that current and future investigations are conducted thoroughly and fairly, and that officers who engage in misconduct are held accountable for their actions.”
Both the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability will conduct a historical review of the city’s police internal affairs investigations to determine whether some cases might need to be reopened and re-investigated. At the end of the review, both agencies will make recommendations to improve internal affairs functions at the police department.
“We look forward to an expansive analysis of the needs of the department, from infrastructure to police practices to personnel. There is no better place to continue the important work of reform and restoration than the Internal Affairs Unit,” said Valdes.
Mayor Andre Sayegh welcomed the move.
“It aligns with my vision for more transparent and accountable police department,” said Sayegh. He said he also recently testified before a state legislative committee in support of a civilian review board to oversee the police force.
Valdes’ office will also review all criminal matters in which the two accused officers signed complaints, handled evidence, testified in proceedings or provided information leading to arrest, complaints, and indictments. Any exculpatory evidence uncovered will be disclosed to the defendants and the court.
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Updated 12:50 p.m.