For decades, the ACLU-NJ joined with Newark residents in calls for civilian oversight of the Newark Police Department. In 2015-16, the ACLU-NJ, N-CAP and others worked with the mayor and city council to create one of the strongest civilian oversight boards in the country. After it was established, police unions challenged the powers of the civilian complaint review board (CCRB), and a trial court stripped the power of the CCRB to investigate police misconduct, hold hearings, and recommend discipline in response to complaints.
The ACLU-NJ and N-CAP filed friend of the court briefs on appeal arguing that the ordinance establishing the CCRB is lawful and carefully constructed to respect the rights of officers while meeting its goal of restoring public confidence and providing transparency in the investigation of police misconduct.
On August 19, 2020, more than four years after the challenge was first filed, the Supreme Court of New Jersey concluded that the CCRB could continue with some of its oversight role, but that state statutes prevented the city council from granting it subpoena power and its authority to investigate individual complaints of misconduct would be limited. It prevents the CCRB from functioning as intended and now, advocates including the ACLU-NJ and N-CAP have turned to the legislature to campaign for a new law that will authorize community oversight.