Dear New Brunswick City,
Under OPRA and common law right of access, please provide copies of all incident reports, including any supplemental reports, for all aggravated assaults investigated by NBPD since January 1, 2019.
I am requesting these records per the suggestion of NBPD Captain JT Miller at the July 17 City Council meeting. Thank you for your assistance and have a nice day.
Dear Mr. Kratovil,
Please see the attached documents responsive to your request.
Shalon T. Bennett
City of New Brunswick
City Clerk’s Office- RM 201
78 Bayard Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
732 745-5041 (phone)
Dear New Brunswick City,
I am writing back to your response to my request for incident reports from all aggravated assault cases.
Unfortunately, the information I have been provided is woefully incomplete. Further, my OPRA request has been denied but Captain JT Miller's August 2 letter ignores my common law right of access request.
As you recall, Captain Miller suggested exactly this sort of OPRA request as a possible way for me to determine how many shootings there have been this year in the City of New Brunswick. His response, however, omits several known shootings without explanation. I left a voicemail for Captain Miller informing him about this and requested a call back, but did not receive one, prompting me to raise the issue to the City Council tonight.
Further, the record Captain Miller prepared for release is inconsistent. For example, some shootings and shots fired calls are included, while others are not. At least three shootings from July alone, that injured four people total, were omitted from the document. Additionally, February 20 and March 19 incidents that resulted in Rutgers University crime alerts are not included in the disclosed incidents.
Rather than including the date/time and location for the actual incident, the report instead lists the dates/times that the police report was filed, and the address field similarly does not always reflect the scene of the crime. Instead, the addresses vary from redacted to left totally blank, to simply "NJ" or "New Brunswick, NJ." Some have street addresses, or intersections listed, but many are listed with the address of RWJ University Hospital, sometimes only because a victim was taken there.
The summary field is similarly inconsistent. Sometimes it includes additional address information, narratives, or details of an incident. Other times it is only one word, such as "robbery."
I would vastly prefer to review the actual incident reports and I believe I am entitled to them, if not under OPRA, then under the common law right of access. I make the following statements not to belabor a point or waste your time, but to strengthen my case under common law.
I am a New Brunswick resident and journalist residing in and covering a high-crime area and concerned citizen of New Brunswick, who has been active in politics and government for over a decade. I have recently been a victim of an assault in the Fourth Ward of the city that is currently being investigated by the New Brunswick Police Department. I have successfully sued the city government in Superior Court on multiple occasions, resulting in the release of records and information related to the New Brunswick Police Department.
New Brunswick Today's coverage of various issues including public safety has led to our journalists receiving over a dozen awards since 2014.
For some time now, I have been seeking to learn the number of shootings so far this year in our city, and in the course of this I have sent Captain Miller multiple emails requesting this information. These emails were ignored, and Captain Miller was unapologetic and patronizing when questioned about this at the July 17 meeting. I pressed him about this and was told to file an OPRA request, thus bringing about this matter.
"I'm not Mr. Kratovil's personal statistician... I don't have the time to do it," said Captain Miller shortly before advising me to file an OPRA request, irrespective of the fact that it would ultimately fall on him to respond to it.
"I'm sure Captain Miller will get you the information," assured City Councilman Kevin Egan.
"He could OPRA all the aggravated assaults and then do the research himself," said Captain Miller.
Given these conversations took place in City Hall, on the record, in an official capacity, I would suggest that it only makes sense for the city government to honor its offer to release the records and information requested to allow me to do the research I need to do to get answers to my questions. Please respond to my common law request, and review the document that has been released for inconsistencies and omissions. Thank you kindly.