Newark community leaders want say in police reforms ordered by DOJ

Community groups in Newark say they want a say in reforming the Newark Police Department. The Justice Department ordered independent monitoring after a federal investigation

Community groups in Newark say they want a

Community groups in Newark say they want a say in reforming the Newark Police Department. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

NEWARK - Community groups in Newark say they want a say in reforming the Newark Police Department.

The Justice Department ordered independent monitoring after a federal investigation found what it calls "a pattern of unconstitutional policing."

Tyrone Barnes is an ex-convict. Now he's a community activist in Newark known as the "Street Counselor" who works with at-risk residents and other former convicts. He believes the people of Newark should have a bigger voice in reforming the police department.

"A civilian review committee should be comprised of people like me... who are out here on the street and know what's going on," he says. "And also we need to have subpoena power."

Community groups rallied at City Hall Thursday. Udi Offer, of the American Civil Liberties Union, says citizens need more power to investigate police complaints and determine punishment. 

"And that discipline must be decided by that independent agency," Offer says. "Not by the police director, not by the mayor of the city of Newark."

The Justice Department says it found unconstitutional stops, excessive force and theft by officers in the three-year investigation.  It will appoint a federal monitor and make sweeping changes

The Justice Department report calls for a civilian review panel, but does not spell out its role or authority. 

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