October 17, 2023


NEWARK –In response to the Department of Justice’s announcement today that it opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by the Trenton Police Department, the following can be attributed to Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice:

“The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and partners support the decision of U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division to open a civil pattern or practice investigation into the City of Trenton and the Trenton Police Department.

“In Trenton, New Jersey’s capital city, 76% of the time police use force, it’s directed at Black people.

“This is but one example drawn from many illustrating the significance of this investigation.

“Ten years ago, the Department of Justice launched a pattern or practice investigation into Newark’s Police Division, which produced staggering findings: 75% of all police stops were found to be unconstitutional and more than 20% of police stops involved excessive use of force.

“To address this difficult reality, Newark entered into a consent decree that has helped to transform policing in New Jersey’s largest city.

“As members of the Newark Monitoring Team overseeing this consent decree, we understand first-hand the powerful medicine that consent decrees provide to help address racial disparities in police departments like Newark and Trenton.

“Even as its work continues in Newark, the consent decree has already led to the development of 16 new policies — centered around community engagement—designed to bring about the transformation in policing that Newark residents have advocated for going back more than 50 years to the Newark Rebellion.  We wrote about this work in ‘Transforming Policing in Newark.’

“We will closely monitor this investigation and stand ready, along with our many partners in Trenton and across New Jersey, to assist the Department of Justice in this effort.”