“Police reform is possible. Newark is a great example,” a Twitter user said
Crime has reportedly dropped in the city with police recovering nearly 500 illegal firearms from the street last year. Aqeela Sherills, head of the Newark Community Street Team, a group consisting of former offenders working to actively defuse violence in the city’s most violent areas, said “This is significant.”
“It speaks to how reform has really taken hold in the city,” Sherills said.
The police reforms are a result of a federal consent decree which came after a July 2014 investigation which concluded that there was a “pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing by the Newark Police Department.” Once the decree came, there was “an agreement in principle with the City of Newark to undertake wide-ranging reforms within the Police Department,” according to the Department of Justice.
In 2011 when then U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman began the investigation, he found a broken culture amongst the Newark Police Department including racial bias during traffic stops and enforcement, violence, and a corrupted internal affairs bureau, according to NJ.com.
He acknowledged , “The use of force was too high, and the reporting of it was too low.”
When discussing the need for police reform, Peter Harvey, the former state attorney general who’s currently overseeing the implementation of the consent decree said: “You had a law enforcement agency with no training about how to enforce the law.”
Larry Hamm, head of the People’s Organization for Progress, acknowledged the impact of the reform in the city. “Police brutality is still a problem but it’s fair to say the consent decree has had a real impact,” he said.
Police reform has become a huge topic of conversation across the country stemming the countless images of young men and women of color being shot or killed by police. President Joe Biden plans to discuss police reform in his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, CNN reports.
An online discussion surrounding Newark’s success with reform was had many saying Newark should be the new standard moving forward. Las Vegas Review-Journal producer Marvin Clemons tweeted, “#PoliceReform is possible. Newark is a great example. Not a single shot fired in 2020 and no payments made for police brutality.”
Rep. Dean Phillips praise the effectiveness of reform, tweeting, “None of Newark’s 1,100 police officers fired a single shot in 2020 and crime was down 6%. Reform is as necessary as it is possible.”
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