August 26, 2020
Comprehensive legislation is needed if the Newark CCRB is to achieve the level of oversight it was created to provide
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an opinion that placed strict limits on the powers of Newark’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). In its ruling, the Court identified that current state law prevents the City’s CCRB from using all of the powers delegated by the ordinance that created it in 2015. In order to carry out its mission to the extent originally intended, legislative action is needed.
As designed, the City’s CCRB was a national model for police accountability, enabling community members to provide simultaneous oversight of local law enforcement through independent investigations facilitated by subpoena power. It was a vision of advocates more than 50 years in the making.
N-CAP was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and Lawrence Lustberg, director of the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at the law firm Gibbons P.C., as it appeared as a friend-of-the-court in the case Fraternal Order of Police, Newark Lodge No. 12 v. the City of Newark to fight for the Newark CCRB as one of the strongest models of oversight nationwide.
Moving forward, N-CAP joins those across New Jersey and the country who are coming together in the name of racial justice and in protest of police brutality. It’s now time for lawmakers to take action, and N-CAP welcomes the opportunity to work together with community partners and lawmakers in crafting legislation that will allow the powers of the Newark CCRB to be fully realized.
N-CAP steering committee members issued the following statements:
Deborah Smith-Gregory, President, NAACP Newark Branch: “The NAACP Newark Branch stands in solidarity with Mayor Baraka’s continued push for a civilian complaint review board that has subpoena and investigatory powers. There must be a dramatic change to the system if systemic abuse as cited by the Department of Justice is to change.”
Maria Lopez Nuñez, Director of Environmental Justice and Community Development, Ironbound Community Corporation: "The courts sent a message to our communities that despite being the year 2020, we must still fight for basic democratic rights. Police cannot police themselves. Police have failed at this job especially here in Newark. It is time to put power in the hands of our community, we need strong civilian oversight."
Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization for Progress: “Despite the Supreme Court ruling, we will continue to struggle for a police review board with subpoena and investigatory powers, and ultimately, this will be achieved.”
Amol Sinha, Executive Director, ACLU-NJ: “The ACLU-NJ has worked throughout its six decades to fight police misconduct – through litigation, campaigns, and research, all with the goals of countering police abuse and racial profiling, and building police accountability, transparency, and reform. New Jersey stands at a pivotal moment, in which the Supreme Court has provided guideposts to the Legislature that lead toward strong civilian oversight with full investigatory power and the promise for true accountability to communities. We are proud to stand with Mayor Baraka, the people of Newark, and all of those who stand with us in our call for civilian oversight.”