For years, Newark elected officials have been pressing for legislation that holds police departments accountable, while giving citizens a “seat at the table.”
Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka is urging the state legislature to pass the ‘Civilian Complaint Review Board’ bill. This legislation, if enacted, will appropriate $800,000 to authorize the creation of Civilian Complaint Review Boards (CCRBs) to allow non-law enforcement the power to investigate, hear testimony and review Internal Affairs documents of police departments operations and police conduct.
“As the injustice, inequality and oppression of the killing and brutality of men and women of darker hue by those who were sworn to uphold and protect is visible and evident on social media and our news stations, the call for justice and accountability has never been louder,” Mayor Baraka said. “We must turn this proposed legislation into law immediately, to make our communities whole, otherwise these abuses will continue, and so will needless tragedies and chronic community trauma.”
| Read: Newark continues to apply pressure for a better system holding cops accountable, takes Civilian Complaint Review Board Case to U.S. Supreme Court
If passed, here are key actions that a civilian review board to carry out meaningful oversight, it must have the power to independently subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence.
- Concurrent investigatory powers: It is essential that civilian review board investigations be allowed to run concurrently and parallel to internal affairs investigations of related conduct by law enforcement.
- Community representation: Each civilian review board must be composed of qualified community representatives chosen by community and civic organizations.
- Disciplinary power: Civilian review boards must be able to recommend discipline of officers.
Described as “the strongest action [that state] Legislature and [the] Governor can do right now to protect essential powers that will authorize strong civilian review boards in New Jersey] by Mayor Baraka in a release, across the state, mayors, cities, organizations, advocates and residents are also calling for the bill to be passed before the end of June.
“This is togetherness. What’s happening now is us working together for the betterment of New Jersey. I will continue to make the voices of these mayors and residents heard in the statehouse,” said Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight (D-31) who sponsored the bill.
“Giving the community a seat at the table is necessary to our healing as a collective people and a nation . . . We must acknowledge that this is part of a larger effort to enact impactful social justice reforms that are long overdue throughout the state,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter (D-35), another sponsor of the bill.
“NAACP Newark NJ urges passage of the bills that will support Civilian Complaint Review Boards becoming a reality. Having subpoena and investigative power will be a transformative step toward true police reform in our city and state,” noted Deborah Smith Gregory, NAACP New Jersey President.
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