MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. - The Southern Burlington County NAACP is hoping to examine how local police respond to reports of race-based incidents months after a Mount Laurel man was captured on video using racial epithets during an altercation with his neighbors.
Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, faces a list of charges after a video of his racial tirade in early July lead to an investigation that revealed a history of similar incidents that went unanswered. Prosecutors have since charged Mathews with harassment, weapons, stalking, and drug charges.
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Months later, the Southern Burlington County NAACP launched a "Police Experience Survey" to analyze potential gaps in police response to racially-based incidents and to gauge the community's trust in local police departments.
The survey first asks participants if they have been "harassed, intimidated, followed or stopped unnecessarily by a Burlington County police officer" and if he or she would seek a local department's help in a crisis situation.
The anonymous, 13-question survey includes questions about the police union's endorsement of elected officials and whether departments should be allowed to display ‘Thin Blue Line’ imagery.
One question bluntly asks "Do you feel the police in Burlington County protect and serve Black and other non-White residents the same as they do White residents?", another asks if the participant consider themselves "anti-police."
An open-ended portion of the survey asks participants to describe positive or negative interactions with their local departments.
Mathews was ordered to remain behind bars in July after a Burlington County judge called him a "threat to the community."
Assistant prosecutor Jamie Hutchinson unpacked his criminal record of 20 prior convictions dating back to 1995, and detailed nearly a dozen police reports over the past year, alleging Mathews terrorized neighbors of color and Homeowners Association board members.
"He was shooting up cars this entire time, he was throwing rocks at cars, he was smearing feces on cars. The ammunition confirms this and it's not a leap to assume that it would escalate his behavior if he was in fact released and that ammunition could be aimed at a person next time," she said.
Edward Mathews, 45, is facing a host of charges after he was captured on video hurling racial slurs at a neighbor in Mount Laurel.
Hutchinson said over the past year Mount Laurel police got the FBI involved and they confirmed Mathews’ handwriting on at least one threatening letter sent to neighbors.
Jazmyn Suszynski, a neighbor of Mathews, said she filed a complaint in municipal court in 2017 after she claimed to have been harassed by Mathews for over a year, but a judge said there wasn’t enough probable cause to sustain the charges.