Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

by M.L. Brown

Who watches the watchmen?

Justin Hopson and the Lords of Discipline—The Modern Watchmen

Justin Hopson was a New Jersey policeman who became subject to harassment by a secret society within the New Jersey state police force known as the "Lords of Discipline" after refusing to support corrupt practices within the force. His ordeal began with the March 2002 arrest of a woman for drunk driving—a woman who, Hopson alleged, was sitting in the back seat of the suspected car. A larger scandal then grew out of this incident when Hopson refused to testify in support of the arrest (Jones).

Threats began to be left around Hopson's workspace, and he became subject to harassment by a secret group known as the "Lords of Discipline" within the state police force. Hopson's car was vandalized, and Hopson was victim to a series of beatings at the hands of the members, causing him to file a lawsuit against the force in December 2003 (Jones).

Years prior to Hopson's whistleblowing, females and members of minorities within the police force also complained about harassment from the group. Hopson later claimed he came forward with his allegations to make the public aware of the insular group and to spur broader changes within the culture of the state police (Jones).

Hopson's suit ended with seven state troopers receiving punishments "ranging from reprimands to 45-day suspensions" (Jones), as well as a $400,000 cash settlement for Hopson.
Ominously, the attorney general's office reported that it "found no evidence that the Lords of Discipline existed within the State Police" (Jones).

"'It’s somewhat bittersweet because there’s still work to be done,' said Mr. Hopson, who added that the Lords of Discipline is still active."

from The New York Times (Jones).
Big image
Justin Hopson, above, courtesy of the Post and Courier (Moore).

In the End

In 2012, Hopson published a book about his experiences titled "Breaking the Blue Wall", and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, with his family. He now works periodically with the county's Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Board, and owns the private investigation firm Hopson Investigations (Moore).
Serpico 1973 scene

Works Cited

Jones, Richard G. "New Jersey Agrees to Settle Trooper's Harassment Suit." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2 Oct. 2007. Web. 14 Feb. 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/nyregion/02lords.html?_r=0
Moore, Thad. "Justin Hopson, Who Shook up New Jersey State Police, Advocates for Doing the Right Thing." Post and Courier. Post and Courier [Charleston, SC], 27 May 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.
Serpico. Dir. Sidney Lumet. Perf. Al Pacino. Paramount Pictures, 1973. Film.