NEWARK, N.J. (1010 WINS/CBS 2) – The Newark Police Department is under fire Thursday night. The ACLU has filed a formal complaint with the federal government, saying the department has shown a pattern of excessive force and police brutality.
Tony Ivey Jr., 13, was pulled over in a Newark traffic stop with his football coach and another teen in 2008. According to his mother, they were threatened at gunpoint by Newark police.
“It’s not about dragging kids out of a car, putting guns to them, calling them all kinds of verbally abusive names – that’s not the correct way you police your city,” Cassandra Ivey said.
On Thursday, the Newark ACLU filed a petition with the US Department of Justice asking the government to investigate the Newark Police Department, alleging systemic problems with excessive force and police brutality.
They’ve documented over 400 cases.
“This petition represents a demonstration of a pattern within the department,” Debra Jacobs, of the Newark ACLU, said.
The filing not only documents 407 cases, but it talks about the $4.8 million the department has paid in recent years to settle cases of police brutality and internal affairs disputes.
Some Newark residents talked to 1010 WINS and voiced their thoughts about the conduct of Newark police.
“I haven’t seen it myself and I live on one of the serious blocks…and I think it comes with the territory. Some areas you’ve got to be more aggressive than other areas,” Vailsburg resident Damion said.
“If it’s in the right circumstance, like if somebody’s being a little resistant when…the cops feel that they should be a little aggressive. Then I think only in that circumstance that the police should take it that far,” South Orange Avenue resident Ashley said.
McCarthy calls the ACLU filing frustrating and disappointing, saying the department has improved training, instituted police evaluations and improved the handling of civilian complaints.
“We’ve made incredible progress in this city in four short years,” police director Garry McCarthy said.
There’s one glaring problem with the police department, however: there are no dash cameras in any of the department’s 400 or so police cruisers.
“No cameras that do what you need them to do: record the data,” Jacobs said.
“That’s being built as we speak,” McCarthy said. “I don’t understand what the issue is. I wish I had another $750,000, and we could put them in every single car today, but we’re implementing that program.”
That will come eventually, but the ACLU says it wants to see progress in the Newark Police Department now, and is asking the Justice Department to step in.
The ACLU’s filing covers cases in Newark dating back the last two-and-a-half years.