ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) — Police chiefs in New Jersey are warning about violence against officers who report misconduct, saying they "are often labeled by their peers as a 'rat' or 'snitch' and subject to harsh reprisals."

The New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police statements came in a legal brief urging a judge not to release internal affairs records of a former police officer convicted of killing his ex-wife three years ago, the Asbury Park Press reported.

A Superior Court Assignment judge earlier decided in response to an Asbury Park Press lawsuit to release records regarding former Neptune Township officer Philip Seidle, 54, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the June 2015 slaying.

The association joined Neptune Township in asking the judge to reconsider, warning of a "prevalent" code of police silence nationwide and pointing to a New York City commission's findings that "the blue wall of silence was being enforced by a majority of officers through intimidation and often harsh means."

An association spokesman, Raymond Hayducka, said the blue wall of silence isn't as common as people think it is. He said internal affairs records should remain secret.

"The reality is that it's an uncomfortable position to be in — when you do have to give a statement against somebody else," he said. "I'm sure no officer wants to be put in that position, so we don't want to compound it by having that in-depth report on the internet."

Judge Lisa Thornton said any harm from release of the records "can be mitigated by redacting information that could reveal the identities of witnesses or complainants,"

"With appropriate redactions, the public's interest in confidentiality does not outweigh the public's interest in disclosure," the judge wrote in her opinion.


Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press,