On September 8, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (“ACLU”) petitioned the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to commence an investigation into the Newark Police Department (“NPD”), alleging that the NPD has a history of engaging in conduct that violates its citizens’ constitutional rights.  The ACLU’s Petition can be found here.

In response to the ACLU’s petition, the DOJ commenced a civil investigation into the operations of the NPD.  On July 22, 2014, the DOJ issued a report of its findings, which concluded that NPD officers have engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing, including theft by officers, unlawful stops and arrests, excessive use of force, and retaliation against individuals who exercise their rights under the First Amendment.

Following release of the report, the DOJ, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the City of Newark jointly identified the reforms necessary to address the DOJ’s findings.  The negotiations culminated in an agreement to enter into a consent decree—a Court-ordered agreement to institute police reforms.

On March 30, 2016, the DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s Office and City of Newark signed a proposed Consent Decree, and jointly proposed Peter Harvey to lead the team of attorneys and experts that will monitor Newark’s compliance with the Consent Decree.  The Consent Decree requires Newark and the NPD to improve the quality of policing through training, increased community engagement and oversight, and the development of new policies and procedures concerning theft, stops, searches and arrests, use of force, investigation of misconduct, officer discipline and the use of in-car and body-worn cameras.

It addresses eight core areas of policing:

  • Internal Affairs:  Theft, Complaint Intake and Investigation, Compliance Reviews and Integrity Audits, Discipline
  • Stops, Searches, and Arrests
  • Community Engagement and Civilian Oversight
  • Use of Force
  • Data Systems Improvements:  Early Warning and Records Management Systems
  • Bias Free Policing
  • In-Car and Body-Worn Cameras
  • Consent Decree Implementation and Enforcement

On May 5, 2016, the Consent Decree was entered by the District Court, and Mr. Harvey was appointed as the Independent Monitor for a period of five years.  As the Independent Monitor, Mr. Harvey is tasked to oversee the implementation of the Consent Decree, and to ensure the NPD is timely in complying with its requirements.