NJ state troopers accused of harassing women during traffic stops

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A New Jersey State Police vehicle in 2016 (AP file)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Two New Jersey state troopers accused of pulling women over to pressure them for dates or to ask for their phone numbers allegedly avoided scrutiny by lying to dispatchers and turning off recording devices.

Trooper Eric Richardson was arrested in June and charged with falsifying records. That was about six months after Trooper Marquice Prather was arrested on similar charges. Police say the cases are not connected.

In court documents obtained by NJ.com, state police investigators allege that Richardson threatened to arrest one woman if she didn't give him her number. He hid the interaction by turning off his dashboard camera and telling dispatchers he had pulled over a man, they say.

Another woman said she gave her number to Richardson during a traffic stop in November. In January, he pulled her over again, she said, to ask why she had changed it.

Investigators believe Prather routinely stopped young women to ask for dates. They say he made a habit of turning off his microphone, ascribing the missing recordings to technical issues. He also frequently asked the women for their cellphones and took the devices back to his car to look through them, they say.

A state police spokesman, Capt. Brian Polite, said such cases are rare and "not indicative of the professionalism that the vast majority of troopers display on a daily basis."

Attorneys for both men declined to comment.