NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The head of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police says the U.S. Justice Department has contacted him as part of a preliminary investigation into allegations made by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU’s New Jersey chapter asked the government in September to provide federal oversight of Newark’s 1,300-officer department.

The group argued an independent monitor is needed because of a high number of excessive force and misconduct complaints against the department.

Hatcher says Justice Department officials visited him in December, and said they planned to interview people who had brought lawsuits against the department.

Hatcher told his officers to have an attorney or union rep present if they are interviewed.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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