Newark PD to no longer release mugshots for minor crimes in effort to protect marginalized people
The Newark Police Department will no longer release mugshots for minor crimes to the public, under a new policy that went into effect this week.
Officials say that the policy is an effort to protect marginalized individuals from harassment.
Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara says that it all stems from a case of cyberbullying that targeted members of the transgender community who had been arrested and had their mugshots make the rounds on the internet.
“People should not be punished like this. It’s public shaming,” O’Hara says. “It was stuff dealing with their appearance, questioning their mental health.”
O’Hara says six members of the transgender community were arrested in 2017 on allegations of prostitution and their mugshots were posted online. He says that at the time it was not a big deal. But those mugshots recently gained attention.
“It went viral for some reason. It had almost 30,000 shares, and 10,000 comments in a couple of days,” he says. “We don’t even know if these people were convicted by a court of any wrongdoing.”
Kevin Turner, of the Pride Center of Newark, says that abuse through social media is real. He applauds the Newark Police Department’s new policy.
“They’ve been really consistent over these last several years in working with the community to pick up on all the ways people can be traumatized and hurt by policy,” Turner says.
But mugshots won’t go away altogether. They will still be used to find those who are wanted or missing. They will also be released for those involved in serious crimes.
“There needs to actually be a crime and indictable crime. Something that causes harm in the community,” says O’Hara.
If it's something that could provoke abuse or hate, O'Hara says it's clear the police department shouldn't be doing it. The department is now in the process of removing prior social media posts that may cause backlash or abuse online.