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Feds launch probe into department led by incoming top cop Garry McCarthy

New police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Monday May 2 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

New police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Monday, May 2, 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 11, 2011 12:21AM

Federal authorities announced plans Monday to investigate the Newark Police Department, where Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s pick for police superintendent has been in charge since 2006.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says the probe will look into allegations of excessive force, discriminatory policing and poor treatment of detainees in holding cells. They will also investigate whether officers retaliate against those who legally observe, or record, police activity.

An Emanuel spokesman repeated Monday what the incoming mayor’s candidate for superintendent, Garry McCarthy, said last week: Many of the problems were there before McCarthy came to Newark.

Not only did McCarthy “institute a number of aggressive and successful reforms, he himself asked the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to work with the NPD to assess the success of his reforms,” said Emanuel spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper. “McCarthy and his colleagues at the department will work with the DOJ to continue to improve NPD’s handling of complaints.”

The assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division said the Justice Department did a preliminary investigation before deciding to launch a formal probe.

In a 96-page filing to the Justice Department in September, the ACLU called for federal oversight of the city’s 1,300-officer department.

Last week, McCarthy told repoters that of the 38 suits cited in the ACLU petition, 31 one of them pre-date the administration of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who hired McCarthy.

Of the remaining suits, three stemmed from arrest situations. Two involved off-duty accidents by police officers where there was “no liability” on the part of the city. And two were dismissed, McCarthy said.

Emanuel told reporters last week that he has no lingering concerns about the ACLU petition because the issue was thoroughly vetted by the Chicago Police Board.

Contributing: Fran Spielman, Abdon Pallasch and AP

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