Groups call for accountable policing and civilian oversight of the NPD

NEWARK - In response to the announcement on July 22nd of an agreement between the Department of Justice and the Newark Police Department to reform police practices in Newark, the following statement is attributable to the following organizations:

  • 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
  • American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
  • Ironbound Community Corporation
  • NAACP of New Jersey State Conference
  • New Jersey Communities United
  • Newark LGBTQ Community Center
  • People's Organization for Progress

“Today is a new day for Newark. The findings of the Justice Department investigation and the reforms agreed to by the City of Newark create an opportunity for the Newark Police Department (NPD) to make historic changes that will bring about a safer city that respects the civil liberties and civil rights of all of its residents. We urge the NPD to work closely with Newark community members as the process of reform begins.

As a diverse group of organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights and advancing social and economic justice, we share a common vision of building a respectful, accountable, and transparent Newark Police Department. We believe that reforms to the NPD are needed to promote community safety and uphold the human rights and constitutional rights of all Newarkers.

The Justice Department’s investigation found widespread police practices that violate Newarkers’ civil rights. These findings included a practice of unconstitutional stop-and-frisks, a broken police accountability system, and a record of the police department unlawfully seizing Newarkers’ personal property and punishing community members for criticizing the police. Meanwhile, Newark communities continue to suffer from high rates of violent crime and have not seen effective NPD strategies to mitigate the violence.

These factors contribute to a scenario where Newarkers face civil rights violations on a regular basis and build a case for reform of the NPD. All Newark communities—African-Americans, Latinos, LGBT people, students, immigrants, low-income people—deserve respect and a police department that contributes to their safety and dignity.

Therefore, we support three goals to reform the Newark Police Department in ways that will protect human and constitutional rights and build a stronger relationship between the community and law enforcement:

  1. Build a culture of respect and cooperation between the Newark Police Department and Newark communities.
  2. Establish Community Advisory Board(s) to facilitate police-community relationships, develop community leadership, and provide feedback to the NPD from Newark communities.
  3. Create a strong, independent civilian oversight body for the Newark Police Department with subpoena power and independent disciplinary authority that can address individual cases of police misconduct, audit police policies and practices, and make recommendations for reforms.”

Related Content