Newark mayor says crime down in all categories

February 1, 2008 12:40:53 PM PST
Newark says 2007 was a good year in the fight against crime.All seven categories of serious crime reported in New Jersey's largest city fell from 2006, with a 10 percent overall decline.

Newark had 99 murders in 2007, seven fewer than a year earlier. Rape fell by 42 percent to 56, while aggravated assaults and auto theft were both down 14 percent. Robberies dropped by 13 percent, burglaries by 9 percent and thefts by 2 percent.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Police Director Garry McCarthy said Friday that Newark has begun what will manifest itself as one of the greatest urban transformations in this nation's history.

In 2007, Newark experienced its first reduction in homicides since 2002, despite an increase in homicides in major urban cities throughout the country. According to recent figures, homicides in 2007 were reduced by 9 percent and shooting incidents by 22 percent, which translates into more than 100 fewer people shot in Newark in 2007 compared to 2006.

"I promised at my inauguration that public safety would be the centerpiece of my administration," Booker said. "After our first full calendar year, Newark's achievements stand boldly against the trend of rising crime experienced by many other urban cities across America."

McCarthy points to the creation, implementation, and modification of several major crime initiatives and partnerships which are responsible for the continued success in reducing and preventing crime citywide.

They include, according to a press release:

QUALITY OF LIFE INITIATIVE: The Quality of Life Initiative was formulated in November of 2006 to improve the overall quality of life for the citizens of Newark. The effort primarily focuses on lower level crimes such as: prostitution, illegal dumping, public drinking, noise complaints, littering, gambling, and curfew and truancy violators. Since the initiative began, there have been more than 45,407 summons issued for quality of life offenses and more than 3,500 people arrested for various crimes and open bench warrants. CENTRAL NARCOTICS SQUAD: This unit shortly after being formed was largely responsible for the dismantling of the narcotics market at the Pennington Court Housing Complex through an eight-month multi-agency operation that resulted in more than two dozen arrests of mid- and upper-level players controlling the narcotics trade in and around that complex. Additionally, the Narcotics Squad has executed more than 140 search warrants, made more than 1160 arrests, seized 79 firearms, nearly $630,000 in illegal narcotics and more than $135,000 in drug proceeds.

FUGITIVE APPREHENSION TEAM: This pro-active unit is multi-jurisdictional taskforce that comprises officers and resources from the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Parole Board, and the Essex County Sheriff's Department. This unit actively pursues individuals who typically have lengthy criminal histories. Previously these individuals although wanted by the law for various offenses were not targeted by police until they were suspects in additional oftentimes more serious crimes. This unit now tracks and arrests these violent criminals before they commit their next crime.

FAT has recovered 21 firearms and apprehended more than 1900 wanted persons including murders, drug dealers, sex offenders, and parole/probation violators. Included in the 1900 arrested were 15 wanted suspects that were featured on the Department's "12 Most Wanted List" developed in November of 2006. Newark's "12 Most Wanted List" was designed to identify and focus on the City's most habitual and heinous offenders that represented a small percentage of our community yet were responsible for a large percentage of our violence and criminal activity.

CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT: This unit is responsible for gathering intelligence about crimes already committed and disseminating that information to patrol and investigative units that utilize the information gathered to prevent future or additional crimes from occurring. This unit's affect on our crime reduction/prevention efforts is far less tangible than other units but their role is equally essential.

VICE UNIT: This unit targets those illegal activities that many consider "victimless crimes" such as: prostitution, illegal gambling, unlicensed liquor stores and taverns, the sale of untaxed cigarettes, pirated compact discs, and bootleg DVDs, as well as trademark counterfeiting. The proceeds of these illegal activities typically fund larger more dangerous criminal enterprises including the illegal weapons and narcotics trades. The arrest and dismantling of these criminal organizations has undoubtedly greatly contributed to our crime reduction efforts.

STREET CRIMES UNIT: This unit is one of our more pro-active units. It is deployed during the specific times and at the specific places where our most violent crimes are occurring. They respond to crimes-in-progress, such as shootings, carjackings, and armed robberies and target our most problematic locations throughout the city in an effort to prevent crime. Through hundreds of motor vehicle stops, record checks, and field interrogations, and road safety check points in and around known gang and narcotic locations, the Street Crimes Unit plays an integral role in our reduction of violent crime and the arrest of those responsible.

GANG INTELLIGENCE UNIT: This unit maintains a database of our gang members, tracking and monitoring their activities and gathering intelligence about their various organizations. The information compiled by this unit is often critical in locating and identifying suspects, predicting and preventing retaliatory acts of violence, as well as preventing random acts of violence resulting from gang initiation rituals. In 2007 the unit made 1565 arrests, executed 15 search warrants and recovered 63 firearms while confiscating $150,000 worth of illegal narcotics and $75,000 in drug proceeds.

AVIATION UNIT: This unit is an invaluable asset to every aspect of our crime fighting efforts. The Newark Police helicopter provides aerial support to our patrol and investigative units and can respond to any section of the City within moments. The use of the helicopter reduces the dangers of police pursuits and increases the likelihood of suspect apprehensions. The helicopter is a great patrolling tool and greatly reduces a suspect's chances of escape during vehicular or foot pursuits.

CRIME/GUN STOPPERS PROGRAM: The Crime and Gun Stoppers programs, initiated in 2007 and funded by the Newark Police Foundation, provide financial rewards for tips that lead police to arrests and weapons recoveries. These programs were supplemental initiatives set in place not only as a financial incentive for the public but more importantly a viable avenue to empower our residents to report criminal activity to the police without fear of retribution or retaliation. The program has paid out $14,000 and proven very successful logging nearly 1,300 tip calls which have resulted in 58 arrests and 28 gun recoveries.