Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Update: Creation of Newark Police Civilian Complaint Review Board Approved by City Council

Newark, New Jersey: A Civilian Complaint Review Board will remain in the City of Newark. 

The Newark City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday evening to approve the creation of the board, which will research claims of wrongdoing in the Newark Police Department. Mayor Ras Baraka issued an executive order to create the board in 2015. 

Several residents, in addition to representatives from the Ironbound Community Corporation, Newark NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU of NJ), New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, and Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (N-CAP) spoke before the council at the meeting. 

There have been a variety of reactions to the decision from leaders of local organizations. 

Udi Ofer of the ALCU of NJ said in a statement that “for 50 years the people of Newark have called for the creation of a civilian review board, and today Newark finally responded by creating one of the nation’s strongest police review boards". 

James Stewart Jr., the president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12, which represents NPD officers, told Essex County Place that the union expected the council to move the CCRB forward. 

"Barring any action from the ECPO [Essex County Prosecutor's Office] or the Office of the Attorney General, which we do not expect, we will move forward, along with the Superior Officers Association, and challenge the CCRB on its merits in any available forum, including Superior Court, to determine what actions are allowed by a New Jersey CCRB, and what actions are not", said Stewart. 

Stewart added that "the FOP has advocated for the DOJ to come into Newark and review our policies and practices, we want to ensure we have the best relationship as possible with the community, we know how important that is. We also want to ensure the rights of our members are protected too. We have a disciplinary process in place, our members are called in to Internal Affairs, or the Prosecutor's Office, to answer for their actions. I saw a post on social media yesterday where a group was calling for everybody to stand during the council vote with the 'hands up, don't shoot' gesture. It seems to me that some of these groups are looking at the CCRB as a way to punish cops, guilty or not. I don't know about anybody else, but the FOP will not allow that to happen." 

However, N-CAP felt that Newark made history as a result of the passage. 

"With the establishment of this CCRB, the days of letting police officers police themselves will start to approach an end", said Jasmine Crenshaw of N-CAP in a statement. 

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