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 (“Newark”) jointly identified the reforms necessary to address the DOJ’s findings. The negotiations culminated in an agreement to enter into a consent decree.
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.
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.
Consent Decree Core Areas
Mr. Harvey developed a monitoring plan that is available for your review. The Monitoring Plan does not expand, restrict, or alter the Consent Decree. Instead, its purpose is to clearly set forth how the Independent Monitor will assess the Parties’ compliance with the Consent Decree.
The First-Year Monitoring Plan also provides the Parties with the Independent Monitor’s priorities for implementing the Consent Decree. These priorities reflect those set forth in the Consent Decree itself, and is informed by the Independent Monitor’s meetings with community groups, NPD officers and command staff, City representatives, and the DOJ.
Because implementing a Consent Decree of this size and complexity must remain a dynamic and evolving process, the Independent Monitor anticipates that the Monitoring Plan will need to be supplemented and/or amended periodically to reflect the current priorities of the Independent Monitor and the Parties.
Quarterly Report and Public Meetings
To keep the public informed of the NPD’s progress, Mr. Harvey and his team will also issue quarterly written reports and hold public meetings to discuss his reports. Mr. Harvey will list all upcoming community meetings on this website. The First Quarterly Report was published in April 2017.