NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Newark’s police director has lifted the veil of secrecy on the city’s practice of field inquiry, a procedure similar to New York’s stop-and-frisk.
The police department says it will make numerous details public about the practice, a policy change that has caused the American Civil Liberties Union to come out in support of the measure.
It is the hope of police director Samuel DeMaio that releasing the information will help maintain a high level of transparency and community involvement, 1010 WINS Steve Sandberg reported.
“We want the community to trust our police department,” he said.
City council members approved an order Tuesday signed by DeMaio.
“It’s essential to police work,” DeMaio said. “It’s something that has to be done. But it has to be done the right way.”
The policy calls for police to make public reports each month that include the race, gender, age, and level of English proficiency of every person police stop and frisk, as well as the number of stops made both citywide and in each police section, and the race, gender and age of people issued a summons or arrested after being stopped.
“It hasn’t been done in the past,” DeMaio said. “We think it’s going to help us get out in front of any potential problems.”
The department also will disclose if a person is a student, and police will record information about the stop, including an explanation for the stop, whether any force was used or contraband was discovered and, if a frisk took place, its legal justification.
“It certainly is a tipping point,” Demaio said. “It’s something that we monitor and we’re very cautious not to do.”
Newark police will share on its website its use-of-force reports and internal affairs data, which include the number of citizen and departmental complaints received each month.
“The Newark Police Department wanted to continue gaining the public’s trust and confidence through the transparency of police work,” Detective Eugenio Gonzalez, a police spokesman, said in an email. “It was imperative that the actions of the department be as public and transparent to the community as possible.
Udi Ofer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said the Newark policy is one of the most comprehensive in the nation and requires more detailed reporting than most departments.
“Transparency in policing is a win-win policy for everyone,” Ofer said.
Testimony in a two-month federal trial challenging New York City’s stop and frisk policy ended in May. Opponents of the policy charged that police illegally detained and frisked thousands of people based solely on their race. A judge has yet to issue a decision in the class-action lawsuit.
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