On July 12, 1967, residents of Newark took to the streets to protest the abuse of a Black cabdriver, John W. Smith. That night, Newark police officers had beat him into paralysis and dragged him into the police station, simply because he drove his cab around their double-parked police car.

Violent encounters with the police catalyzed the Newark Rebellion, just as they did the protests in hundreds of other cities across America in 1967.

Law enforcement abuses in Newark have been so pervasive that in July 2014, the Department of Justice announced a pattern of widespread civil rights violations in the Newark Police Department. It found that Newark’s police officers had no legal basis for 75 percent of their pedestrian stops from 2009 to 2012, which were used disproportionately against black people. In addition, the Newark police detained innocent people for “milling,” “loitering” or “wandering.”

The Consent Decree

In 2016, a federal court approved a panel of experts-led by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey-to serve as the Independent Monitoring Team of the Newark Department of Public Safety's Police Division, in accordance with a settlement reached by the Department of Justice and the City of Newark.  The Consent Decree requires the Independent Monitor to conduct an annual survey to assess Newark community members' experiences with and perceptions of the NPD and public safety. More information on the consent decree and the Independent Monitoring Team can be found at https://www.newarkpdmonitor.com/. 

Newark is poised to realize the kind of policing that residents have long urged. The kind of policing in which law enforcement respects and honors the humanity of the people they serve; the kind of policing in which police seek first to build community; and the kind of policing in which law enforcement joins with the communities they serve to be both peacemakers and peacekeepers. 

As a member of this monitoring team, the Institute is committed to ensuring that the community voice resounds throughout the reform process.

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Read about the progress of the Consent Decree as of September 2020 -- and how you can get involved -- here.


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