Federal Investigation Into the Newark Police Department: Our Hope, Our Fear, and The Future

promoted by Rosi

I grew up as a “son of the blue.” My father, State Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28th Legislative District), was a decorated member of the Newark Police Department, serving as a detective and active member of the Bronze Shields organization within the NPD. I knew/know great cops and my earliest Christmas childhood memories involve leaving my new toys from “Santa” to accompany my father as he joined other members of Newark’s finest giving toys, clothes and food to the less fortunate in my city. I also know that the conditions that created the precursor to the Newark rebellion, a police brutality event, and many other problems within the Newark Police Department have not been corrected for over 40 years. This has been the case through three mayoral administrations, many city councils, and police directors that have served from every color (Black, White, Latino) and who have come from within or from outside of the department. Simply put, the institution has not been able to correct itself when dealing with alleged police brutality and alleged racial disparity in discipline issues.  more below

That is the reason that the U.S. Justice Department’s pending investigation into the Newark Police Department is a potential blessing of real reform. The hope is that a federal monitor is named that will really propose and implement internal policy and personnel changes. I hope for more ideas that will add teeth to former Director McCarthy’s community engagement reform plan he introduced last year. I hope for better systems of accountability within the department and for better “policing of the police by the community” opportunities. Lastly, I hope that the changes will engender more cooperation with the police by residents who will have a renewed confidence and faith in those that protect and serve our neighborhoods because it is the only thing that will lead to further real reductions of violent crime in the city.

Our fear is that unrealistic recommendations are made or that the recommendations are not implemented fully. Good ideas without a plan for execution are useless in solving problems. I also fear that the Administration will not be as receptive as similarly situated cities like Seattle and New Orleans. I hope the Mayor will welcome the inquiry.

Lastly, I want to personally thank Deborah Jacobs and the NJ ACLU for never losing faith that this was the right medicine to fix what ails our city. My office has worked with the ACLU since we launched a joint effort for intake of resident police harassment accusations when they felt that Internal Affairs would not properly address them. The ACLU has also testified before my ad-hoc committee investigating alleged NPD disparity in disciplinary action based on race. And I was glad to add my voice to the call for the investigation and speak with federal authorities over the last few months while they considered taking action.

I love the Newark Police Department. Our officers put their lives on the line for us everyday and the NPD leadership and members in my 4th Precinct are effective, heroic and loved by the community. I just want their institution to be a reflection of the character of the overwhelming majority of its men and women and to live up to the oaths that all officers swear an allegiance to. I want all residents to have the memories I have from my youth of NPD officers and for those same officers to feel that they are protected and valued as they serve us. Is that too much to ask? I certainly do not think it is.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *