News and Current Information Records
Newark is one of the most violent and one of the poorest cities in New Jersey. Yet, the city laid off in excess of 160 police officers last year due to budget issues. That was the cities largest reduction in force in over 30 years. Though the city's violent crime rate had drastically decreased in 2008 and 2009 it has steadily been climbing over the past two years. Since April, the murder rate alone has increased 65 percent over the same period a year ago.
How has the affected the performance of the Police Department in Newark? Per the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) there have been 261 complaints filed with the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division between 2008 and 2009. In September the ACLU submitted a 96 page filing with the Department of Justice calling for federal oversight of the police department. The filing cited 418 instances of misconduct including allegations that officers were responsible for breaking a man's jaw and eye socket during an arrest as well as seven deaths.
On Monday the DOJ announced that they would be conducting an investigation in to such allegations as excessive force and discriminatory policing. The U.S. Attorney has stated that allegations of poor treatment of detainees in holding cells will also be investigated. The information leading to the investigation was compiled from a variety of sources, rather than one single event. Justice officials will collaborate with members of the police department, city officials, community leaders, civil rights groups and civilians in this endeavor. A report of the findings will be made a public record.
Police officials say they are welcoming this probe. Detective James Stewart, Jr., vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 12 in Newark is quoted as saying 'If anything, there is excessive discipline in this department. The perception that we run around out there and do whatever we want to is completely untrue.' Stewart says that they are cooperating with this investigation to the fullest.