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Former Newark police boss under investigation

Craig D. Frazier | 5/1/2014, 4:17 p.m.

The former boss of the Newark Police Department’s Internal Affair unit, Deputy Chief Joseph Tutela, is the target of an investigation by the prosecutor’s office. The allegations against him point to a stretch of time which led to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) releasing a 96-page petition calling for a federal monitor to oversee the department.

Tutela, 57, was arrested and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer in 1988 and was the subject of domestic violence allegations twice in 2010. According to police, Tutela ran the unit three times between 2001 and 2011.

The disclosure of Tutela’s legal troubles is the latest controversy for Newark’s Internal Affairs unit. The ACLU investigation found that citizens filed 261 complaints with the department accusing officers of using excessive force, biased actions, improper searches or false arrests in 2008 and 2009.

“It’s possible that a strong leader of Internal Affairs wouldn’t have been able to right the ship, but it is certainly true that if you have a leader who himself is flouting the rules, then he is unable to enforce them for his fellow officers,” said Alexander Shalom, policy counsel for the ACLU. The Essex County prosecutor’s office is investigating allegations that Tutela has been working at a second job when he was supposed to be on duty.

The Justice Department will place the Newark Police Department under a monitor later this year. It will be the first time in state history that a municipal police agency will operate under a federal watchdog, according to four sources familiar with the situation.