Stadler

Steven Stadler successfully sued the Atlantic City Police Department, claiming he was illegally beaten by officers during his 2013 arrest.

CAMDEN — A trial surrounding a 2013 excessive-force lawsuit against the Atlantic City Police Department entered its fourth week Monday with questions lingering about whether the department properly enforced its own internal affairs policies prior to Henry White becoming chief in December of that year.

The suit was filed by Atlantic County resident Steven Stadler, who says officers illegally beat him and sicced a dog on him after he burglarized a car wash in 2013.

On Monday, Atlantic County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton testified the county Prosecutor’s Office is not responsible for making sure municipal police departments enforce their own policies. Instead, the office looks at each internal complaint to determine whether an officer committed a crime.

Prosecutors do not get involved with the discipline of officers in noncriminal internal affairs complaints and do not record any specific trends among officers who rack up complaints throughout their tenure, she said. They also do not specifically track how many internal complaints an officer accumulates.

The testimony seemed to contradict that of former Atlantic City police Chief Ernest Jubilee, who last week testified he was comfortable with the Internal Affairs Department during his time as chief in part because the Prosecutor’s Office reviewed all internal cases.

At the same time, computer software meant to assist the Early Warning System in tracking patterns of excessive force among officers was not installed on the department’s computers. It was up to officials in the department to manually track and warn officers they had been flagged by the Early Warning System.

While chief, Jubilee said, he relied on officers’ direct commanders to tell them they had been identified by the Early Warning System, which flags officers who receive three or more excessive-force complaints in a single year.

He also testified he routinely did not follow up with officers flagged for alleged repeated use of excessive force and no protocol existed to deal with such officers beyond telling them they had been flagged.

The three officers involved in this case, Glenn Abrams Jr., William Moore and John Devlin, earlier testified they were not notified they had triggered the Early Warning System.

When Jubilee heard the officers had not been notified, he paused and responded, “That’s surprising.”

Stadler and his attorneys are trying to prove the Atlantic City Police Department routinely turned a blind eye to internal affairs complaints and gave officers a “slap on the wrist” for cases of misconduct. Stadler says if the department had taken internal affairs more seriously, he may not have been beaten in March 2013, which he says has left him scarred physically and emotionally.

White has not been called to testify in this case but is on the list of potential witnesses.

When he became chief in December 2013, he told The Press of Atlantic City his goal was to create new policies dealing with excessive force that would improve the department’s image and help community relations. Since then, the policies surrounding the use of police dogs have been reformed and officers have been required to wear body cameras, among several other changes, according to previous Press reports.

“In addition to being efficient, we need to be effective,” White told The Press in 2013. “We’re no longer going to measure our success by how many arrests we make. We’re going to need to ask: What is our relationship with the stakeholders, with the people we are paid to protect and serve? Do they trust us well enough?”

Contact: 609-272-7260 JDeRosier@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDeRosier

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