The U.S Department of Justice today will launch an investigation into the Newark Police Department, eight months after the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey alleged civil rights abuses by officers patrolling the state's largest city, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The Justice Department is expected to examine police practices, as well as internal affairs policies. The probe follows months of preliminary interviews with officers by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.
If the ACLU complaints are substantiated, federal authorities could call for an outside monitor to ensure reforms are carried out. Fraternal Order of Police vice president James Stewart Jr. said he was questioned in March. “It was my belief that the feds were going to come in in some capacity,” he said today. “They believe that there are some questions that need more definitive answers.” The ACLU petition in September presented an exhaustive catalog of lawsuits and internal affairs statistics and alleged the department was “beset with serious systemic problems.” The petition said that out of 261 complaints in 2008 and 2009 involving excessive force, differential treatment, or improper arrest, entry or search, only one was sustained.