Behind every baton blow and broken bone, every compliance hold and gunshot wound, there are piles and piles of paper. Somebody had to be keeping tabs, right? Almost two decades ago, the state Attorney General's Office ordered police officers in New Jersey to document every single time they used force against another person. The goal was to make sure nobody with a badge abused the greatest authority granted them. The timing was no accident: The state was reeling from one embarrassing episode after another of racial profiling and controversial shootings. The public was losing faith. In response, state authorities could show they were keeping watch, creating an encyclopedia of the most mundane and most violent arrests. The documents would be reviewed by superior officers, and annual reports would be sent to county prosecutors and the attorney general.
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