June 23, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NCAP REAFFIRMS THE POSITION OF POLICE REVIEW BOARDS
CALLS FOR THE NJ ASSEMBLY TO HONOR A HISTORIC MOMENT
Following confused and controversial maneuvers around what may be a revolutionary legislative enactment of police reform, Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (NCAP), has clearly reaffirmed its position for “strong” civilian review boards and the adoption of other related strong police reform measures. in a letter to the NJ State Assembly today.
On Monday alone, NCAP played a pivotal role in bringing together a number of organizations at the NJ Statehouse to rally behind the passage of the A4656 (McKnight D-Hudson), a bill allowing the creation of committees of civil exam for any municipality looking for one. Supporters of the NCAP effort have all insisted, as NCAP insisted from the start, that for CCRBs to be effective, they must have “subpoena power, community representation, concurrent investigations and disciplinary recommendations. “.
Although CCRBs exist in other places, and some date back to 1966, none have the powers sought by the Newark, New Jersey model. Serious social justice critics agree that the CCRBs made no difference in calls for police reform because they lack that authority. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Newark City Council created a model that made CCRBs relevant to long-standing calls for meaningful reform. Last August, the NJ Supreme Court ruled against Newark’s offer to set up a council with that force, but said it could be reinstated if it was first enacted through legislation to statewide.
The time for the passage of this legislation had come this week, many thought, only to discover that the CCRB bill had suddenly been “withdrawn” from being on track for a vote in the assembly.
NCAP, in a letter appended to this release, reiterates its original position and says many of the other organizations that participated in Monday’s State House rally will also do so.
“Newark’s CCRB structure is a model for state and nation, and now requires legislative changes to fulfill its promise of power. We urge the legislature to support legislation that allows for the establishment of municipal civil complaints commissions with the key features that were originally granted to the Newark CCRB. “
Monday’s rally also called for passage of the Police Transparency Bill S2656 (Weinberg D-Bergen), which would make the records of disciplined police officers public and end the removal of the veil of secrecy that has marred decades-long police investigations and the George Floyd Bill S2617 (Turner D-Mercer), outlawing and criminalizing strangles like the one that tragically killed Floyd in show mode.
June 23, 2021
President of the Coughlin Assembly
Members of the NJ State Assembly
Re: Reinforced civilian surveillance of the police
To the New Jersey State Assembly:
In the haunting shadow of the spectacle of George Floyd’s death, on the heels of this country’s most epic moment of protest last summer, at a time that challenges us all to go beyond what We are all for being the change that needs to happen, write to us today to urge you to support strong Civilian Oversight Review Boards. Civilian police oversight requires powerful powers: subpoena power, community representation, simultaneous investigations and disciplinary recommendations.
The need for civilian oversight arose as a result of uncontrolled police power, made possible by an almost total lack of transparency in police disciplinary practices, confirmed by secret investigations into internal affairs which rarely impose discipline , and has led to a well-documented lack of accountability and transparency, misconduct, violence, and racially disparate police practices that disproportionately target communities of color. Internal affairs investigations back up complaints and impose discipline on officers at insanely low rates, worsening already choppy community relations with police.
Civilian Review Boards (REBs) provide a vehicle for police accountability while reshaping policing practices and giving civilians a meaningful voice in decisions about officer discipline, which in turn would lead to change. in the relationship between community members and the police. For more than 50 years, Newark residents have claimed police accountability through a civilian oversight board, and over the years communities across the state have joined in the calls..
In 2010, ACLU-NJ submitted a petition to the US Department of Justice that documented 418 allegations of abuse from the Newark Police Department (NPD) over a two-and-a-half-year period. This petition sparked a three-year investigation into the NDP, and in 2014 the US Department of Justice released a report documenting the findings of widespread violations of civil rights and liberties in the Newark Police Department. These violations included unconstitutional and racially discriminatory arrest and arrest practices, excessive use of force, punishment of Newarkers for exercising their First Amendment rights, quotas, officer thefts and an internal affairs system. failing.
In 2014, our community groups formed a coalition called Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (N-CAP) to lobby for powerful civilian oversight of the NDP. After examining the successes and pitfalls of CRBs in other states, Newark residents lobbied for a model that included meaningful investigative powers over individual complaints and discipline oversight. Less than a year later, in 2015, Mayor Baraka introduced an ordinance and the Newark Civilian Complaints Commission was promulgated as one of the strongest civilian oversight bodies in the country.
The Newark Police Unions immediately challenged the authority of the CCRB, delaying and now hampering the city’s ability to implement its supervisory board as planned. On August 19, 2020, a New Jersey Supreme Court decision in the case Fraternal Order of Police, Newark Lodge No. 12 c. the city of newark recognized the benefits of community monitoring, but found that state laws prevented Newark’s CCRB from functioning as intended by the city. The court identified the necessary legislative corrections and found that until the legislature changes the relevant laws, the Newark CCRB will not be able to issue subpoena and its investigative powers will be limited.
Newark’s CCRB structure is a model for state and nation, and now requires legislative changes to fulfill its promise of power. We urge the legislature to support legislation that allows for the establishment of civic complaints boards at the municipal level with the key features that were originally granted to the Newark CCRB.
N-CAP continues to urge the legislature to include additional powers necessary for civilian oversight to make a real difference, including: subpoena power, simultaneous investigative power with no waiting period, transparency of records and inclusion of people with criminal records. We strongly urge the New Jersey Assembly to support strong civilian oversight powers.
No more George Floyd! Transparent police surveillance now!
Newark Communities for Responsible Policing