The Justice Department will place the Newark Police Department under a monitor later this year, the first time in state history that a municipal police agency will operate under a federal watchdog, reports the city’s Star-Ledger. The decision follows a federal review of the way the state's largest police force swept aside accusations of misconduct against hundreds of officers and its failure to address complaints of brutality and abuse lodged by Newark residents over the years.
The investigation began in 2011, a year after the ACLU filed a scathing 96-page petition with the Department of Justice, accusing Newark's police of rampant misconduct. The ACLU investigation found citizens filed 261 complaints with the department accusing officers of using excessive force, biased actions, improper searches or false arrests in 2008 and 2009. Only one complaint was sustained by the department. Federal monitors are appointed by the Justice Department and are usually someone with legal and/or law enforcement experience but with no ties to the agency being scrutinized. The monitor's term could run as a long as five years.