Justice Department Finds Widespread Constitutional Violations in Newark Police Department

A U.S. Department of Justice investigation has found that the Newark Police Department violated citizens’ constitutional rights and engaged in a pattern of excessive force, with such practices disproportionately affecting the city’s black community.

Among other infractions —such as theft by officers and underreporting of use of force — the investigation found that up to 75 percent of stop-and-frisks in Newark are unconstitutional.

The department must now undergo a complete overhaul, under supervision of the Justice Department.

On Tuesday afternoon, DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said in public remarks:

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the city’s police chief Eugene Venable accepted an “in-principal agreement” from the Justice Department that outlines requirements for reform, including strengthened internal monitoring, better training, enhanced community engagement, and oversight by a federal court.

“The City of Newark should welcome this opportunity to establish meaningful reforms of the police department, including creating and implementing policies and practices that will better ensure proper and more productive interactions between police and the communities they serve,” said Ed Barocas, Legal Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “A partnership between the City of Newark and the Justice Department has the potential to change the police department forever, for the better.”

The news comes as the New York City Police Department is under fire for putting a Staten Island man in a chokehold last week — a practice clearly banned in an NYPD patrol guide. The asthmatic black man was later declared dead at the hospital.

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