The federal government will appoint a monitor to oversee Newark’s Police Department as it moves to address longstanding allegations of brutality, discrimination and neglect of civilian complaints, the New York Times reports. The monitor will be part of the response to a U.S. Justice Department investigation begun three years ago that uncovered a pattern of constitutional violations by the police of New Jersey's largest city. Accusations that the Newark Police Department abused residents and brushed aside their complaints predate ignited riots that tore the city apart 47 years ago this month.
While the Justice Department has stepped up investigations of police misconduct, and New Orleans and Seattle have been put under similar oversight in the past few years, the appointment of a monitor remains a rare step. Civil liberties groups and some black leaders have periodically called for federal intervention since the riots. Some, including the city's new mayor, Ras Baraka, argue that mutual suspicion of Newark's 270,000 residents and its police hurts the city as it struggles to deal with crime, including its highest murder rate in nearly 25 years. Former Mayor Cory Booker, now a U.S. senator, resisted calls for a federal monitor.