The American Civil Liberties Union wants an outside auditor to review civilian complaints against the Newark Police Department, which the group said are underreported, reports the Associated Press. The police department said civilian complaints against police officers decreased 16 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. The ACLU’s Deborah Jacobs said many cases aren’t carried over from one year to the next, effectively lowering the numbers. She urged Newark to follow the lead of other towns that allow citizens to make complaints on the Web.
The ACLU is representing two Newark teens and their football coach, who say they were abused by Newark officers during a traffic stop in June. Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said, “We’ve changed the way we do our internal investigations and we’re going to make more changes.” He said the internal affairs unit has doubled in size since he arrived two years ago. The department does more random drug testing of officers and has undercover personnel pose as civilians to call the complaint line and report the treatment they receive. McCarthy acknowledged that the failure rate on these calls is 30 percent.