In response to Senator Cory Booker’s recent statement calling for police reforms to increase accountability, transparency, and professionalism, Lisa McCormick criticized the lawmaker’s record on police reform during his tenure as mayor of Newark.
In a statement issued by McCormick, a prominent voice for progressive values in New Jersey, she noted that during Booker’s tenure as mayor, the Newark Police Department was known as a “civil rights nightmare” that will remain under a court-ordered federal monitor at least through July 2023.
She pointed out that Booker adopted aggressive policing tactics and later resisted calls for a federal investigation into complaints of police brutality and misconduct. Booker also waged war against the American Civil Liberties Union and other community activists over their calls for federal oversight of Newark police.
McCormick’s statement came in the wake of Booker’s reaction to the Justice Department’s announcement that the Louisville Metro Police Department had engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
The death of Breonna Taylor prompted the federal probe, which found the police department in Kentucky’s largest city had engaged in unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests, leading to a gross violation of the civil rights of the citizens of Louisville.
In contrast to Booker’s calls for reform, McCormick emphasized the need to focus police resources on violent crime while investing in common-sense prevention strategies like getting guns off the streets, addressing the opioid crisis, ensuring accessible mental health care, and creating good jobs that people can live on.
The leading advocate for police reforms further stated that “it is time to get smart against crime, rather than relying on ineffective measures such as mass incarceration of low-level offenders, unchecked police brutality, and other civil rights violations.”
“Our nation’s ideals of liberty and justice for all cannot be fulfilled unless we address the root causes of crime and the systemic issues that perpetuate it,” said McCormick. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough to stop the plague of gun violence, and we must take a smarter and more humane approach to policing and criminal justice.”
Newark’s police force will remain under a court-ordered federal monitor through next summer, even as local officials tout major reforms and say they no longer need a highly-paid watchdog, which has cost city taxpayers $7.4 million over the last five years.
The city’s oft-troubled police department has been under scrutiny since a U.S Department of Justice investigation uncovered civil rights abuses and misconduct by officers in 2014. Newark and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a deal in 2016 to overhaul policing in the city under a court-enforced order known as a consent decree.
They also agreed to appoint former state Attorney General Peter Harvey as a federal monitor for five years and capped his payments at $7.4 million. Harvey’s job is to ensure Newark keeps its consent decree promises, but his predetermined July 2021 end date has come and gone, and he said the work still isn’t done.
“When he talks about accountability, transparency, and professionalism, Cory Booker is dipping into the Kool-Aid, and he does know the flavor but he does not realize we can smell that BS,” said McCormick, parroting a line Booker shot during a presidential debate at President Joe Biden after being accused of doing too little to fix Newark’s troubled police department.
“His police department was stopping and frisking people, mostly African American men,” Biden said about Booker. “We took action against them, the Justice Department took action against them, held the police department accountable.”
About Lisa McCormick:
Lisa McCormick is a leading advocate for progressive values and an outspoken voice for police reform. She has been a vocal critic of the systemic issues that lead to police brutality, mass incarceration, and other civil rights violations, and has worked tirelessly to promote common-sense policies that prioritize the safety and well-being of all Americans.
McCormick ran for US Senate in 2018 as a progressive candidate, and she made police reform a key issue in her campaign. She highlighted the need for greater accountability and transparency in policing, and called for an end to the systemic issues that lead to police brutality and other civil rights violations.
McCormick advocated for a number of specific policies to reform law enforcement, including increasing police training on de-escalation techniques, implementing stricter use-of-force guidelines, and expanding the use of body cameras. She also emphasized the importance of community policing and building stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
One of McCormick’s most notable positions on police reform was her call for the creation of a national database of police misconduct. She argued that such a database would help to identify and hold accountable police officers who engage in misconduct, and would also help to build public trust in law enforcement by demonstrating that there are consequences for bad behavior.
McCormick’s was an important effort to elevate the issue of police reform and to push for concrete policy solutions. While she ultimately did not win the election, her advocacy during the campaign for US Senate in 2018 continues to inspire others to work towards a more just and equitable society.
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