The Newark Police Department has agreed to require that its officers document every stop-and-frisk interaction and to report statistics monthly on the Web.
The new policy, implemented Monday by General Order No. 2013-03, is meant to "affirm the commitment in continuing to develop positive relations between the Newark Police Department and the community."
It resulted from months of meetings among Mayor Cory Booker, police director Samuel DeMaio and the American Civil Liberties Union's New Jersey chapter.
Udi Ofer, the ACLU-NJ executive director, says Newark police already had been documenting much of the pertinent information but not compiling, summarizing and publishing it.
The data is to be maintained by the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), which monitors officers' behavior, conducts audits and investigates complaints, officer firearm discharges, vehicle pursuits and corruption allegations.
The data include:
• The stop's date, time and location.
• The reason for the stop.
• Whether the subject was patted down and what the legal justification for the frisk was.
• Whether the subject was searched (more intrusive than a frisk), the scope of the search and why it occurred.
• The subject's apparent race, gender and age (though officers are prohibited from asking for this information in most cases).
• Whether the stop resulted in a warning, summons or arrest, and what the charges were.
• Whether force was used, and how.
• Names and badge numbers for all involved officers, from any jurisdiction.
The data is to be broken down by date; police unit; reason for the stop; number of stops that yielded contraband; and race, gender, age and English proficiency of the subject.
Police also must state whether an interpreter was provided, to measure the impact of stop-and-frisk practices on immigrant communities, and whether the subject is a student, to better understand the effect of stops on academic performance, Ofer says.
By the 10th of each month, OPS must provide its data to the Detective Bureau/Criminal Intelligence Section, for summarizing and posting on the Newark police website by the 15th.
OPS also must forward the data to the police director, and prepare a quarterly report for the mayor and the city's business administrator.
No other law enforcement agencies in the state, and few in the nation, have such comprehensive reporting requirements — not even the state police, which publicly reports statistics on vehicular stops, but not pedestrian stops.
Ofer urges other law enforcement agencies to follow Newark's lead.
The state Attorney General's Office has not issued stop-and-frisk policies or guidelines but routinely trains law enforcement on constitutional law as applied to stop-and-frisk practices, says spokesman Peter Aseltine. He declines comment on Newark's directive.
Darren Gelber, president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, says the department "should be applauded in any effort to increase transparency," calling the directive a "tremendous step forward."
The collected data might be useful to attorneys trying to claim pretext or discrimination in their clients' matters, says Gelber, a partner at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge.
He compares the directive with the state police's 1999 consent decree with federal authorities barring troopers from basing traffic stops on racial or ethnic profiling.
Newark police director Samuel DeMaio did not respond to an interview request by press time Tuesday.
The ACLU does not generally oppose stop-and-frisk practices, but has railed against perceived abuses. In September 2010, the ACLU-NJ petitioned the U.S. Justice Department to monitor Newark police based on 418 allegations of misconduct in 30 months.
In May 2011, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, along with the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Special Litigation Section, announced an open-ended investigation into a possible pattern or practice of misconduct in the agency.
Booker and Fishman said at the time that the ACLU-NJ's petition, though a factor, wasn't the main catalyst.
An end date for the probe, or for the subsequent report officials have promised, is not clear yet, Fishman spokesman Matthew Reilly says.