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Federal monitor set to begin overseeing Newark Police Department

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Journal Staff Report | 9/1/2014, 6 a.m.
A sharply critical report released from the Justice Department (DOJ) calls for federal monitoring of the Newark Police Department (NPD. ...
New Jersey may become the first state to raise the smoking age to 21 if a bill already passed in the state Senate becomes law. Pictured is the New Jersey State House, Trenton, New Jersey. Wikipedia photo

A sharply critical report released from the Justice Department (DOJ) calls for federal monitoring of the Newark Police Department (NPD. The report found a systemic practice of “unconstitutional policing,” including unlawful pedestrian stops and the use of excessive force that is often under-reported. The report follows a three year investigation into the practices of the NPD by the feds.

“The Newark Police Department is an organization that is challenged in fundamental ways,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

In a brief statement to media following the release of the DOJ report, new Newark mayor Ras Baraka said, in part, “The roof is caving in, but this is an opportunity to build a new roof.” A federal monitor is scheduled to begin overseeing the Newark Police Department in September.

Gov. Christie vetoes sports betting bill

Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have paved the way for sports wagering at New Jersey's casinos and racetracks.

Christie last month rejected a bill that would have pushed New Jersey to circumvent a federal law banning gambling on professional and college sports in the state. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to take up the state's case, which means the ban stands.

While Christie said he mounted "a spirited legal effort" to try to change the law, he said he was unwilling to go along with an attempt to bypass the court.

Both chambers of the Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill in June, days after the top court's ruling.

Assembly Democrat Ralph Caputo, a sponsor of the legislation, called Christie's decision disappointing and said the state is running out of options for raising revenue.

Christie said he is open to exploring other approaches for allowing the wagers that comply with federal law.

Source: The Associated Press

New Jersey lawmakers may raise smoking age to 21

New Jersey may become the first state to raise the smoking age to 21 if a bill already passed in the state Senate becomes law.

State Sen. Richard Cody, a Democrat and former acting governor, sponsored the measure last year, saying "I think we have to send a message to our young adults: To smoke is no joke."

Under the proposed law, which passed the state Senate by a 23-10 vote, violators would be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

The NJ Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association opposed the legislation, claiming it puts the responsibility of complying with the law on its members, instead of underage buyers. Also critical of the measure was Audrey Silk, founder of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH).

A similar bill has been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly, but it has not yet been brought to a vote. It is not clear whether Christie would back the new law.

The minimum age to buy tobacco products is 18 in all but four states. In addition to New Jersey, Alabama, Alaska, Utah and the District of Columbia all require buyers to be 19.

FoxNews.com contributed to this report

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