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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name DOJ Investigation of Newark Police Department PN-NJ-0007
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-01731-MCA-MAH ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") initiated an investigation of the Newark Police Department ("NPD") in May 2011, after receiving serious allegations of civil rights violations by the NPD. Such allegations included that the NPD subjected Newark residents to excessive force, unwarranted stops ... read more >
The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") initiated an investigation of the Newark Police Department ("NPD") in May 2011, after receiving serious allegations of civil rights violations by the NPD. Such allegations included that the NPD subjected Newark residents to excessive force, unwarranted stops and arrests, and discriminatory police actions.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 ("Section 14141"), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d ("Title VI"), and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d ("Safe Streets Act"). Section 14141 prohibits government authorities from engaging in a pattern or practice of law enforcement misconduct that violates individuals' constitutional or federal statutory rights. Title VI and the Safe Streets Act together prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin by the recipients of certain federal funds.

On July 22, 2014, the DOJ issued its findings. Its report "identified a pattern or practice of constitutional violations in the NPD's stop and arrest practices, its response to individuals' exercise of their rights under the First Amendment, the Department's use of force, and theft by officers. The investigation also revealed deficiencies in the NPD's systems that are designed to prevent and detect misconduct, including its systems for reviewing force and investigating complaints regarding officer conduct. The investigation also identified concerns that do not appear to amount to patterns of constitutional misconduct, but which nonetheless are significant and warrant consideration by the NPD. These concerns relate to the NPD's practices in dealing with potentially suicidal detainees, the NPD's sexual assault investigations, and the impact of the NPD's policing on the LGBT community."

Simultaneously with issuing the findings, the DOJ and Newark announced an "Agreement in Principle"--a partial settlement that would serve as the foundation of a more comprehensive, judicially enforceable agreement. The Agreement required the City to: implement civilian oversight for the NPD; review and revise NPD policies, training, and internal oversight mechanisms, particularly regarding the use of force and stop, search and arrest practices; to train officers about the First Amendment; improve accountability and supervisory practices; revise internal affairs practices; and enhance data collection and analysis.

On March 30, 2016, the United States filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The United States brought the action against the City of Newark for declaratory and injunctive relief under Section 14141. The complaint reiterated findings from the 2014 Findings Report and alleged that the defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of conduct depriving people of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Fourth, First, and Fourteenth Amendments. More specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in unreasonable stops, searches, and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment; violated the rights of individuals to engaged in protected speech in violation of the First Amendment; used unreasonable force against individuals in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and stole property from individuals in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The same day, the parties submitted notice of a joint motion for entry of a consent decree. On May 5, the court (Judge Madeline C. Arleo) issued an order approving the consent decree.

The consent decree details action steps the NPD will take regarding policy review and revision; training; community engagement and civilian oversight; stops, searches, and arrests; bias-free policing; use of force; in-car and body-worn cameras; theft; complaint intake and investigation; compliance reviews and integrity audits; discipline; data systems improvement; and transparency and oversight.

More specifically, the action steps include: improving officer training; revising policies, training, and supervision to ensure that stops, searches, and arrests are carried out constitutionally in a manner that takes account of community priorities; integrating bias-free policing principles; reforming use of force policies; and conducting objective, thorough, timely investigations of complaints.

The court will retain jurisdiction until the court determines that the City and the NPD have achieved full and effective compliance with the consent decree and have maintained compliance for no less than two consecutive years. The City and the NPD will aim to reach full and effective compliance within five years of the effective date of the consent decree.

- 03/05/2015
Julie Singer - 03/10/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Training
Warrant/order for search or seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
Failure to train
False arrest
Grievance Procedures
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) City of Newark
Plaintiff Description United States
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2023
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  New York City to Pay Up to $75 Million Over Dismissed Summonses
New York Times
Date: Jan. 23, 2017
By: Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:16-cv-01731-MCA-MAH (D.N.J.)
PN-NJ-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Justice Department Opens Investigation into the Newark, N.J., Police Department
PN-NJ-0007-0010.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/09/2011
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Investigation of the Newark Police Department
PN-NJ-0007-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
City of Newark and United States of America Agreement in Principle
PN-NJ-0007-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
Findings Report
PN-NJ-0007-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
City of Newark and United States of America Agreement in Principle
PN-NJ-0007-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
Request for Applications to Serve as Court Monitor of the Newark Police Department
PN-NJ-0007-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/16/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
List of Applicants for Federal Monitorship of Newark Police Department
PN-NJ-0007-0011.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/17/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint
PN-NJ-0007-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Memorandum of Law in Support of Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree
PN-NJ-0007-0007.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Consent Decree (D.N.J.)
PN-NJ-0007-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Justice Department Reaches Agreement with City of Newark, New Jersey, to Reform Police Department’s Unconstitutional Practices
PN-NJ-0007-0009.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Fact Sheet: Justice Department Agreement with the City of Newark to Reform Newark Police Department
PN-NJ-0007-0012.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Supplemental Motion for Entry of Consent Decree [ECF# 4]
PN-NJ-0007-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Arleo, Madeline Cox (D.N.J.)
PN-NJ-0007-9000
Hammer, Michael A (D.N.J.)
PN-NJ-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Comizzoli, Sabrina G. (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0007-0003 | PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013 | PN-NJ-0007-9000
Fishman, Paul (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0007-0002 | PN-NJ-0007-0005 | PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0009 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0009 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Kent, Patrick (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Murray, Jeffrey Robert (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0003 | PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Ogletree, Rashida J (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013 | PN-NJ-0007-9000
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0002 | PN-NJ-0007-0005
Sanders, Corey M. (District of Columbia)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013
Vassallo, Kristin Lynn (New York)
PN-NJ-0007-0006 | PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013 | PN-NJ-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Benjamin, Avion M. (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0013 | PN-NJ-0007-9000
Brown, Karen (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0007-0002 | PN-NJ-0007-0005
Parker, Willie L. (New Jersey)
PN-NJ-0007-0007 | PN-NJ-0007-0008 | PN-NJ-0007-0013

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