Since becoming Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker has done nothing to address the continued abuse and corruption prevalent in the Newark Police Department.
On September 9, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union brought a federal civil rights suit against the City of Newark and its police department alleging that over a period of two-and-a-half-year officers of the Newark Police Department engaged in various forms of police misconduct such as false arrests, violence and excessive force, and shake downs and various other forms of abuse and corruption.
When the suit was filed Mayor Booker called the suit “misleading and “manipulative.” He further said himself or through his spokespersons that the petition was “frivolous” and “filed in bad faith”, and that Newark would use every means at their disposal to get it dismissed. Such response by the Mayor shows at a minimum, that he was either ignorant of the pervasive corruption of city police force, or engaged in a cover-up. Such behavior, either way, is unacceptable as the mayor for our largest city in this State.Instead of investigating the internal affairs department to ascertain whether the ACLU suit had any merit, Booker stated on a radio talk show, “We don’t need to be taken on wild chases that suck up time and energy, and take police officers away from their mission on Internal Affairs and their mission on public safety.” This statement of Booker shows his ignorance of the essential and important function of a police internal affairs unit.
On May 14, 2011, eight months later, when the federal government announced that it would engage in its own investigation of the Newark Police Department, Booker said that it was on board with the fed’s from day one. In fact, Booker lied to the press when he said that he was against the ACLU lawsuit because the ACLU lawsuit did not call for a federal investigation. In fact, if he had read the ACLU Complaint the first line reads, “The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey respectfully requests that the Special Litigation Section, acting pursuant to its authority under 42 U.S.C. § 14141, commence an investigation into the Newark, New Jersey Police Department.”
For years experienced attorneys were aware that the internal affairs division in the Newark Police Department was virtually non-existent in practice and that any grievance that reached their desk was quickly dismissed with no real integrity or investigation. In fact it was a common practice for citizens complaining about a Newark Police Officer to be threatened by members of the internal affairs department, with arrest, or with the threat of forcing the grievant to submit to a polygraph test, a violation of the Attorney General Guidelines.
Almost without exception, however, the grievance was simply dismissed as frivolous by the I.A. unit because in every case the officer’s version of events was deemed more credible than the grievant. Notwithstanding, that often the same cops were being complained about over and over again, no integrity tests or other types of investigations were being undertaken against the suspected cops.
Attorney Sanzone has had first hand experience and has in federal court confronted the corruption and police misconduct of police officers for the City of Newark in his civil rights cases against the city (CriminalDefenseNJ.com). Likewise, in criminal cases Attorney Sanzone has successfully defended defendant’s charged with false allegation by Newark Police Officers and has obtained dismissals or acquittals because of various forms of police misconduct.
The Cory Booker cover-up unfortunately is not limited to him or his city. Unfortunately, in almost every town and city in this State, mayors, police commissions and directors have internal affairs units which are a virtual joke. Contrary to law and public safety, these police directors’ use their internal affairs units not to protect the public from bad and corrupt cops, but rather, as a device to quash and silence citizens from making valid complaints, with the purpose to discourage and dissuade them from filing grievances and complaints against police officers and police departments in the future.
The federal government and state attorney’s general office has a daunting task in reforming police departments, but it is clear that left to their self policing they will continue to abuse and violate citizens’ constitutional rights with impunity. It would benefit everyone including honest and hard working police officers to weed out cops who engage in corruption and police misconduct; why it does not happened I do not know.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Dated: June 1, 2011