After a recent announcement that the Newark Police Department is likely to become the first New Jersey municipal police agency to operate under federal oversight and only the third of all New Jersey agencies to be federally monitored in the last 15 years, Newark authorities from a variety of organizations have met the decision with a welcome reception. Among them are city elected officials as well as the president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police.
The decision to impose a federal monitor was prompted by a U.S. Department of Justice investigation which began in 2011, making the Newark Police one of the 50-some police departments in the country to undergo such an investigation in the last 20 years. Following these investigations, 10 departments have been subject to federal monitoring, which is the most serious action that can be taken as the result of a federal probe.
Notably, the investigation followed a nearly 100-page petition filed in 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union under 42 U.S.C. 14141(a), criticizing the Newark PD for officer misconduct and police brutality. According to the ACLU report, Newark residents lodged 261 complaints against the department between 2008 and 2009 in connection with officer misconduct, which included using excessive force, conducting unlawful searches, showing gender and race-related bias among citizens, and making false arrests. Records show that only one of the complaints was ultimately addressed with disciplinary action against an officer.
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Any definitive decisions as to the monitoring of the Newark PD are pending, such as who will be conducting the oversight and the period during which said oversight will occur, which could be up to five years. A spokeswoman who serves on behalf of Newark city government confirmed the likelihood of the institution of a federal monitor; however, she was sure to emphasize that the agreement has yet to be cemented. According to sources close to the negotiations, the details will be finalized via “consent decree,” a legal contract between Newark and the Department of Justice ensuring that the city will comply with the reforms imposed following the investigation.
For additional information regarding this matter, see the following articles:
- Newark police to be monitored by federal watchdog, sources say
- Newark leaders say they welcome federal monitor for police department