At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, a law enforcement officer from the Montclair State University Police Department, while leaving the substation at the end of shift, observed a fight in progress between two individuals next to a car in a parking lot on the campus at Clove Road and Village Road.
The primary role of the University Police is to keep the campus safe. Due to the uncertainties surrounding this altercation and vehicle stop, the officers took every precaution necessary to make sure that members of the campus community were not at risk. While the optics in the video may be unclear, the reality is that the officers acted according to New Jersey Attorney General guidelines and the process worked.
In this situation, the officer promptly contacted police headquarters to advise of the fight in progress and to request backup. The officer identified to the combatants as a law enforcement officer and ordered the two individuals to cease fighting and to lay on the ground. The combatants initially refused to comply with the officer’s order. The officer then noticed a third individual in the front seat of the vehicle and ordered that individual to show his hands. The officer then detected additional movement in the rear seat of the vehicle, but did not have a clear view since the vehicle’s windows were tinted.
Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the officer drew his weapon to secure the scene until back-up arrived. Requested backup arrived and the combatants were once again ordered to the ground. One of the combatants, after refusing to comply and resisting arrest, was subdued to the ground and handcuffed. The other combatant complied with instructions and was placed under arrest. The individual seated in the back seat was ordered to the ground and searched. The individual in the front seat was searched as well.
All of the officers holstered their weapons to make the arrests, with the exception of one officer who continued to monitor the movements of the partly obscured person in the backseat of the vehicle. There was no discharge of any weapons nor was any individual injured during the incident, except for one of the involved officers who sustained minor injuries.
One of the combatants was charged with simple assault. The other combatant was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Both were processed and issued summons to appear in court before being releasing on their own recognizance by 7:00 p.m. The other two individuals were released at the scene without charges being filed.
Consistent with State of New Jersey protocols, the Montclair State University Police Department is submitting a “use of force” report to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for an independent review of the incident.
The members of the Montclair State University Police Department are sworn police officers of the State of New Jersey who are charged with protecting and ensuring the safety and welfare of the University’s students, employees and visitors. During calendar year 2017, the Montclair State University Department responded to over 7,000 calls for assistance. Since the inception of the Montclair State University Police Department in 1976, no member of the department has ever discharged a weapon in the line of duty. In 2018, the National Council for Home Safety and Security ranked Montclair State University the 16th safest campus in the nation.