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Late yesterday, the Justice Department and U. S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced that they're investigating possible civil rights violations by the Newark Police Department.

The inquiry will evaluate whether the Police Department's practices are in violation of federal law, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Officials have begun conducting interviews and reviewing records to determine whether officers have a pattern of illegal stops and frisks and use of excessive force against civilians.

"Our goal is not to blame, but to fix any problems we might find," Fishman said at a news conference Monday.

One factor in this investigation--a complaint by the New Jersey ACLU which alleges over 400 civil rights violations from 2008 to 2010, some of which resulted in people dying.  Newark police director Gerry McCarthy, who is due to become Chicago's police superintendent, asked the Justice Department for help after the ACLU's complaint came to light last year.

Fishman is also looking into allegations that Newark cops frequently retaliate against people observing police activity.  For instance, back in March 2010, a high school student in Newark was briefly detained while recording police attending to a stricken man on a bus, but released her when they finally realized they had no lawful basis to hold her.

The way it looks so far, the likely result will be a consent decree of some sort.  Civil Rights Division chief Thomas Perez says that Justice is just there to fix unconstitutional practices.

The public can submit complaints by calling 855-281-3339 or by sending in a complaint form.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Chicago connection will have wingnuts creating CT in 3 ... 2 ... 1

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Tue May 10, 2011 at 02:25:00 PM PDT

  •  Interesting. "We're going to find out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if anyone committed a crime, but we're not going to prosecute them -- just make sure everyone knows the law."

    The investigation is not a criminal investigation and is meant to pinpoint practices that violate the Constitution and provide a way to fix them, said Tom Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

    To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

    by gooderservice on Tue May 10, 2011 at 02:32:31 PM PDT

    •  If you go in threatening, the Blue Line closes up. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And you get no cooperation and you find less information. So it is a question of which is the priority: fixing it or punishing evil doers. Maybe I have the wrong focus but if I have to choose between the two, I would rather fix the mess than punish folks.

      I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

      by CherryTheTart on Tue May 10, 2011 at 02:56:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see your point, but can't agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Of course no one can say what they would do if they found themselves in a particular situation until they find themselves in that situation, but I can certainly try to imagine one of the victim's rights being violated and what they would want, i.e., justice meted out to the perpetrator of the crime AND for it never to happen again to someone else.

        I would suggest that even if everyone involved was promised in writing that no charges would be filed against them, I would suggest that they still wouldn't feel comfortable in telling the truth.  So the Blue Line is mostly always closed.  They still have to work with each other every day for many years.

        I would also suggest that this is exactly what Obama did in "some" ways, fix the mess rather than hold people accountable AND fix the mess.    They're not mutually exclusive.

        To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

        by gooderservice on Tue May 10, 2011 at 03:15:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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