Dept. of Justice Likely to Monitor Newark Police Department

By Lauren Wanko

Newark resident Terry Williams says the Newark Police Department desperately needs a federal monitor to oversee the department.

“To me, they need to wipe all of the actual police department and get some new police officers here,” Williams said. “They don’t do what they’re supposed to do so the feds coming, I’m excited about that.”

The spokesperson for the mayor’s office tells NJTV News the city’s still in the course of discussions with the Department of Justice, adding a monitor is likely but has not been definitively decided.

“We’re gonna look at this whole situation. We’re looking at the whole report thoroughly. At this moment, the only thing I can say is we are going to cooperate, work with with the Justice Department and we believe that we have a plan and that we will present it to the Department of Justice and to the U.S. attorney,” said Newark Mayor Luis Quintana.

“We welcome the appointment of the federal monitor by the Justice Department. We look forward to working with the federal monitor. The appointment of the federal monitor is an affirmation of the petition filed more than three years ago by the ACLU of New Jersey, documenting widespread abuses within the Newark Police Department,” said ACLU of New Jersey Executive Director Udi Ofer.

The ACLU of New Jersey’s petition included more than 400 incidents of abuse and misconduct by the Newark Police Department, including 261 complaints to internal affairs from 2008 to 2009.

“Of those 261 internal affairs complaints, one was sustained by the Newark PD Internal Affairs bureau,” Ofer said.

Police Director Samuel DeMaio is reportedly expected to retire later this month. The Newark Police Department did not return NJTV’s call for a request for comment. In May 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation of the Newark Police Department. The investigation is ongoing. The Department of Justice told NJTV News they don’t comment on ongoing investigations.

The ACLU of New Jersey says the federal monitor is just the first step. The organization is calling for an inspector general and a civilian complaint review board.

Ofer insists not having independent and strong civilian oversight over the Newark Police Department has cost Newark millions of dollars.

“During the period of our study, Newark had shelled out more than $4 million in response to civil rights lawsuits, allegedly rampant police misconduct and civil rights and civil liberties abuses,” Ofer said.

The ACLU of New Jersey says they’re hopeful the federal monitor will pave the way for permanent accountability within the Newark Police Department.