Huffington Post: Newark Residents Have Zero Tolerance for Police Corruption

Last week, the ACLU of New Jersey filed yet another lawsuit against the city — our third in three years — alleging systemic abuse in the Newark Police.

Our client, Diana Taylor, was walking home when two police officers stopped her. They demanded her identification. She gave her legal name — Christopher Moore.

“You’re right — I owe you 10 dollars,” one officer told the other, “It is a man.”

ALCU-NJ executive director Deborah Jacobs highlights their third case against the Newark Police Department in three years for abuses of civil liberties.

Taking Back Our Streets: Crime Reduction in Newark

Newark’s longstanding narrative of progress has had many names (anyone remember the “Renaissance City?”), but a singular, pernicious problem: how can any administration claim progress in the city when the crime problem has showed unsteady improvement?
Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy joins me to discuss how the city is approaching the crime problem and his expectations for the future. More after the jump.

Newark’s longstanding narrative of progress has had many names (anyone remember the “Renaissance City?”), but a singular, pernicious problem: how can any administration claim progress in the city when the crime problem has showed unsteady improvement?
Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy joins me to discuss how the city is approaching the crime problem and his expectations for the future.  More after the jump.

[audio://dailynewarker.com/files/2010/01/TDN Podcast – McCarthy.mp3]

When the Booker administration arrived in City Hall, they inherited a city with a rising murder rate and a reputation for lawlessness.  In his inauguration speech in 2006, the Mayor promised to add hundreds of officers to the street and implement zero-tolerance policing:

His focus landed squarely on crime. Citing the city’s rising murder rate, and naming victims who died young, he said, ‘‘We have work to do in America when any child is killed.’‘

Specifically, Mr. Booker said his administration would immediately implement zero-tolerance policing. Reiterating his campaign promise to add hundreds of officers to the streets, he said, ‘‘I will enforce all laws, from traffic laws, with people speeding down our suburban streets, to littering laws.’‘

Much of the mayor’s success in his first term hinges on crime reduction, particularly after the tragic murder of three college-bound Newarkers in 2007, which made national headlines and devastated the city.

Since taking the civilian post in 2006, Mr. McCarthy has made strategic changes to the Newark Police Department to focus resources on the city’s most difficult issues.  The Star Ledger recently reported the 2009 results by highlighting an increase in homicides, though every major crime category — including shootings — was substantially down for the year.

The director joined me on the podcast to discuss how these numbers square — how can you have more murders with fewer shootings? — and how the NPD is sustaining its focus going into 2010 in order to see further crime reduction.

Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting

Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting
BusinessWeek picks up on the tech enforcement meme kicked off by TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington. This upbeat piece connects the dots between crime prevention and economic development. (Hat tip to Bill Chappel for the link)

Already though, the business community is beginning to throw its weight behind Booker’s plan. In August, Newark scored a big win when London-based Standard Chartered Bank (STAN.L) opened a new office downtown that will hold more than 500 employees. Inspired by the mayor’s vision, financial executives, such as New York hedge fund operator William Ackman, have financed some of the new technologies that the city can’t afford because of its $180 million budget deficit. And the Newark offices of big companies such as Verizon Communications (VZ), AT&T (T), Cablevision Systems (CVC), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG), and Continental Airlines (CAL) are beginning to hire more residents from the city.

Audible.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com (AMZN), is one of the companies that has jumped on the Mayor’s bandwagon. Last March the company moved its headquarters and 165 employees out of Wayne, N.J., and into a 50,000-square-foot office in downtown Newark. Don Katz, Audible.com’s founder and CEO, says the space is 50% cheaper than Manhattan real estate. And even though Katz expected Newark’s reputation to scare away some employees, not one worker has left since the move. “For a long time, I thought it would be great if we could serve our shareholders and be part of an urban renaissance,” says Katz. “All in all, it’s been a complete win.”

For more on the success of the police camera system in Newark, check out the TechCrunch interview with Mayor Booker.

Preventing Crime With Tech: The Newark Experiment

TechCrunch editor, and personal hero, Mike Arrington interviews Mayor Cory Booker regarding the impact of the $3.1 million Community Eye project, which is a blanket of wireless, high-resolution cameras. Preventing Crime With Tech: The Newark Experiment
Booker counts the the cameras as one of the key components of the city’s 40% drop in the murder rate in 2008. The audio gunshot-detection technology, which will help cameras hone in on the source of a gunshot, will also come online later this summer.

Newark has raised $2 million of the required funds and are looking to private philanthropists to fill the gap. If you’re interested in donating to the Community Eye project, click this link: Donate Now to Community Eye in Newark.

The podcast is linked below, and well worth the full 20 minutes of your time.

[audio:http://www.talkcrunch.com/wp-content/TalkCrunch-EP36-CoryBooker.mp3%5D

People told me when I first came into office, that if I saw a 10% reduction in murders, that’s dramatic. And not just in 1 year, but as mayor for 4 years to accomplish that. This year alone we’re having 40%, not to mention what we accomplished last year. Overall, everywhere we’re seeing a reduction in crime. In some areas we’re seeing it completely stop.

New Jersey’s largest city sees drop in homicides

New Jersey’s largest city sees drop in homicides
The Associated Press picks up the meme about Newark’s 40% YTD drop in homicides, and provides a national venue for Booker to respond to the Esquire piece.

While Booker and McCarthy are quick to point out that this isn’t a victory, I’m considering sending flowers to our local precinct.

“I wouldn’t call it an accomplishment,” Booker said. “Instead I’d call it an encouragement that the investments we’re making are paying off and giving us a clear vision of the work we still have to do.”

The charismatic Booker, who lives in one of the city’s highest-crime areas, has attracted attention for his hands-on approach. He regularly rides on patrols through some of Newark’s toughest neighborhoods, where he is known to conduct one-on-one curbside counseling sessions with the city’s late-night denizens.

As the city’s biggest cheerleader, Booker bristled at a recent Esquire magazine profile that he felt portrayed the city unflatteringly and compared him to the Will Smith character in “I Am Legend” who saves Manhattan from zombies.

“My objection was the portrayal of Newark as some post-apocalyptic war zone where people aren’t even human,” Booker said.

Killings in Newark Drop, but a Sense of Fear Persists

Killings in Newark Drop, but a Sense of Fear Persists
The drop in homicides may be the biggest success story for Newark in 2008. I’m starting to get excited about what 2009 will look like for Newark, should the trend continue into next year.

Mr. McCarthy said he did not ask Mr. Booker to substantially increase Newark’s police force of about 1,000 officers, opting first to increase efficiency, “like a corporation.”

“If you saw a map of crime in Newark, you wouldn’t even need another map to see the boundaries of the city because crime was so widespread,” said George L. Kelling, a criminal justice professor at Rutgers in Newark and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “It was hard to focus resources.” Mr. McCarthy said he had assigned more patrols at night, particularly on weekends, when homicides most often occur, and had asked county, state and federal agencies for additional help, which led to the deployment of 300 more law enforcement officers on the streets.

The extra patrols have made an impression. “You got more cops on the streets, ain’t as many places to hustle,” said T. J. Hughuy, 26, who said he had recently returned to Newark after more than two years in prison on a drug conviction. “Made me realize I got to get a job,” said Mr. Hughuy, who is now a welder.

NPD Reports 37% Decline in the Murder Rate, on Track for Record Low for the Year


Newark’s murder rate on track to beat all-time low

The NPD may be on pace to cut the murder rate nearly in half by the end of 2008. With the market “going to crap commodities prices going through the roof, and the potential (well, okay, rumor) of mayhem in the Middle East, this news is a sight for sore eyes.

Newark’s murder rate has dropped so much this year that the city has a shot at breaking an all-time low.

There were 30 murders in the first half of 2008, compared to 48 during that time last year, according to police. If things go a little better in the second half of the year, the city could beat the modern-day low, set in 1997, of 58 murders.

“It’s been a very good year,” Police Director Garry McCarthy said.

Shootings are down too, by nearly 20 percent. But underlying that decrease is a spike in property crime, particularly burglaries, that has driven the city’s overall crime rate up for the year.

McCarthy says he expects the property crime trend to reverse in the last six months of 2008, leading to an overall drop in crime.

According to the Department’s own crime statistics (PDF, June 15), overall crime is up by 10% — and up in nearly every category other than murder.

I’ve heard a smattering of stories from friends and neighbors about robberies: one pizzeria was robbed at gunpoint in daylight after the lunch crowd in the Ironbound. Some muggings have been reported near Penn Station. A friend’s apartment was robbed for some jewelry.

These crimes need serious attention and redistribution of forces. But, in comparison to a plunging murder rate, these other things don’t seem quite as shocking as they were when I first heard about them.

Incidentally, we know why Booker was as cool as a cucumber when he lost those local elections so miserably. When you deliver solid, outstanding results like this, who needs to bow to the political machine?

Veteran officers retire with fanfare in Newark

Veteran officers retire with fanfare in Newark
Great story celebrating the careers of two of Newark’s finest.

Monday was the last day at work for two men with nearly 80 collective years on the force. One, Deputy Chief Daniel Zieser, joined in 1972. The other, Capt. Michael Marelli, enlisted eight years earlier. That kind of longevity is rare among police, so the department made a show of it.

Borrowing a tradition from his former employer, the New York Police Department, Police Director Garry McCarthy arranged “walk out” ceremonies marking Zieser and Marelli’s service to the city.

In two separate events – one for Zieser at police headquarters, another for Marelli at the 5th Precinct – the departing commanders walked from their offices as officers stood at attention in their dress uniforms. Mounted cops sat atop their horses and motorcycle patrolmen stood beside their bikes. A police helicopter thumped overhead.

Newark Police Academy Graduates 66 Recruits

Newark Police Academy Graduates 66 Recruits

In a chamber packed with family members and friends, the 66 members of the 113th Police Recruit Class took their oaths of office as Newark Police Officers, received awards for their Academy achievements, and exhortations from Mayor Booker, Police Director Garry F. McCarthy, and Police Chief Anthony S. Campos.

Police Director McCarthy gave the new officers three “orders of the day” in his remarks, urging them to “stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay excited,” ensuring that they returned home to their loved ones after their tours of duty, and avoided becoming jaded by their jobs. “You will see the best and worst of mankind in your 25 years on the job,” Director McCarthy said. “You will see unspeakable horror and the greatest heroics. And your actions will change the course of history. Treat people with dignity and respect, and make a difference.”

Number of parking tickets jumps in Newark

Number of parking tickets jumps in Newark
Not so surprising. Police Director McCarthy is already on record as stating that smaller quality-of-life crimes will be enforced more rigorously.

The anecdote in the article about police officers running out to the street to move their cars was hilarious, though — welcome to my world.

In the Ironbound, you can end up spending a small fortune in parking tickets if you’re not careful about alternate side parking. After living here four years, I still set a reminder in my calendar to re-park the cars on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Last year, Seabra and his colleagues in the sanitation department gave out 74,325 parking tickets for violations like expired meters and not moving for street cleaning. That’s 28,849 more than the year before, a 63 percent increase.

In the first three months, the Newark Police Department has also increased the number of tickets issued. From January to March of this year 77,781 parking tickets have been written by police, a 20,460 ticket increase from this time last year. That adds up to about 6,800 additional tickets per month on the windshields of Newark motorists. At $35 apiece, those 20,460 additional tickets figure out to $716,100 in revenue.

The increase in tickets written by the sanitation department workers in 2007 brought in $2.6 million, a $1 million increase over 2006.