NEWARK – The U.S. Justice Department today announced its decision to open a civil pattern of practice investigation into the Newark Police Department. The allegations include excessive force, discriminatory policing and police retaliation.
“We will be focused on what steps need to be taken to prevent them in the future,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who said the investigation would determine whether the department is systemically abusing constitutional rights.
Fishman recognized that the PD took a hit when the city laid off over 160 officers last year.
“I very much appreciate the collaborative support of Mayor Cory Booker and directors McCarthy and DeMaio,” the U.S. Attorney added.
Police Director Garry McCarthy is leaving the department, bound for an opportunity in Chicago.
He was present at the press conference today as was his successor, Acting Director Sam DeMaio.
Booker said he anticipated being able to improve the department.
“We have found an office that was enthusiastic to partner with us,” said the mayor. “We share three goals. We have to reduce crime; We have to respect the rule of law; number three, the exact spot Garry McCarthy started with me: we have to engender greater respect from the community that the police department is out there in partnership working with them.”
Over the course of McCarthy’s four years of service, “We have made a lot of progress,” the mayor said. “But let’s be clear, there is still room for improvement. …When some of the allegations began to surface last year, we called our partners on the federal level.”
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said the feds had received sufficient intel from a “diverse” range of stakeholders to give them impetus to launch the investigation.
“There is evidence that the civil rights may have been violated on some level,” Fishman told reporters.
Booker deflected those questions of reporters trying to prod him toward confessing negligence regarding oversight of the police department.
“This is not an indictment of anything,” said the mayor. “Understand, we encouraged this. We invited this. Anybody who can help us, we want you at the table. I’m going to tell you this right now, they’re going to find things.”
He said there’s a petition circulating on the streets that he feared would strengthen swirl against the police department, and so welcomed a public partnership with the feds.