The city of Newark openly invites every resident to take a ten to fifteen-minute paper survey of questions addressing their thoughts on Newark-police community relationships, based on personal experiences. The site in central ward felt sort of like a school testing area, but the participants didn’t fill out their questionnaires in silence. Many were openly voicing their support for the federal monitor over the Newark Police Department.
“If the department can do it on their own, they would have done it by now. Unfortunately, we need some outside assistance to get things right and I’m looking forward to what’s to come of it,” said Lynda Lloyd, a Newark resident looking for more accountability.
“All police officers are not bad. But there are unfortunately some bad apples. Once we start to rid those bad apples, we can be more celebratory of our police department because they do work hard. The bad apples make the whole bunch look bad. Best case scenario we start to see some prosecutions for injustices and our overall relationship gets better with the Newark Police Department.”
The survey was created by the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice.
“The police department is really embracing the reforms that are going to move it to the next level,” said Ryan Haygood, president of the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice.
Haygood, a resident of Newark’s south ward, filled out his own survey.
“Part of what was required in this process was a recognition on behalf of the police department that things were not going well,” Haygood said. “That their as a long history of unconstitutional police abuse. That it persisted into the modern era, and that the police department really needed to turn a corner in terms of re-imagining what relationships should like with the community and beginning to build trust in a new relationship. This is a critical part of the early first step.”
Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey was found mingling with residents filling out their surveys. He was appointed the independent monitor of the Newark Police Department.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about attitude and demeanor. People feel that their humanity, their person hood is not being respected. By police when they have encounters with police,” said Harvey.
But it’s not all bad. Harvey says some residents already see improvements.
“One of the persons here knew a high ranking officer in a precinct who was very responsive to her concerns about one particular issue that she raised, so there are bright spots along the way, we just have to make it uniformly,” said Harvey.
Harvey says the survey will be administered every year over the course of Newark’s consent decree.
“I am very optimistic over where we’re going and the progress that will be made.”