On September 9, 2010, the ACLU-NJ formally petitioned the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Newark Police Department (NPD). The petition came in response to an increasing number of complaints about the mistreatment of citizens at the hands of rogue NPD officers, and superior officers who tolerate this misconduct.
Federal law allows the Department of Justice to intervene when there is a pattern or practice of law enforcement officers denying people their constitutional or legal rights. The ACLU-NJ identified at least 407 allegations of NPD misconduct over a recent 2.5 year period, including police shootings, sexual assault, beatings of prisoners, false arrests, reckless high-speed driving, and discrimination and retaliation against NPD's own officers by their superiors. It also details almost 40 lawsuits resolved at a taxpayer cost of at least $4.8 million during those same 2.5 years, and describes almost 40 other misconduct lawsuits that are still pending in federal or state court.
Our Petition asks the Department of Justice to commence an investigation into the NPD and impose solutions that have worked in many jurisdictions around the country, including an independent police monitor, improving police internal affairs practices and police discipline, and reforms of key police policies.
This matter is captioned: In the Matter of a Petition for an Investigation into the Newark, New Jersey Police Department by the United States Department of Justice Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141.
Current status: On May 9, 2011 the Department of Justice announced that it will begin an investigation into the practices of the Newark Police Department.