The Safer Newark Council 2017 Report on the Status of Public Safety in Newark
The Safer Newark Council (SNC) is a cross sector group with public safety as its core focus. SNC has three main goals: 1) To provide an independent assessment of the current status of public safety in Newark and share this assessment with its citizens; 2) To identify and promote a set of strategic priorities for improving Newark’s public safety citywide; and 3) To create a medium for aligning evidence-based and problem-oriented public safety initiatives with these strategic priorities, making connections between the city’s current array of public and private public safety activity, and identifying gaps in that work. SNC releases a yearly report on the status of public safety in Newark to help ground strategy in data.
This report provides a snapshot of the state of violent crime in Newark for 2016-2017, provides a summary of key activities related to Newark’s violence reduction strategy, and shares SNC’s soon-to-be launched collective impact model.
From 2015 to 2016, the City of Newark experienced a 13% decrease in crime, which was the first double-digit reduction in 50 years. In 2017, overall crime increased 3% compared to 2016; however, compared to 2015, there still was a 10% overall reduction in 2017.
- Murder – From 2015 to 2016, there was an 11% reduction in murders. In 2017, murders decreased an additional 23% resulting in an overall 32% decrease in murders from 2015 to 2017. Additionally, the number of nonfatal shooting victims decreased 22% from 2015 to 2016. Despite the success in 2016, the number of nonfatal shooting victims in 2017 increased 31%.
- Robbery – From 2015 to 2016, Newark had a 23% reduction in robberies. In 2017, robberies decreased another 23% resulting in an overall decrease of 40% from 2015 to 2017. Numerous organizations are operating formal and informal offender-focused strategies, namely, intervening with supports in the lives of those at risk of committing robbery. The SNC is most familiar with two offender-focused strategies: COPY and JROPP.
SNC will continue to coordinate community stakeholders, including the Newark Police Division, the Newark Community Street Team, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, and Rutgers Schools of Criminal Justice and Psychology, around murder and robbery priorities.
SNC plans to expand its work to tackle broader issues related to public safety by adopting a collective impact model. SNC will organize and staff five working committees focused on violence reduction, victim services (to reduce retaliation), youth intervention, reentry, and community engagement. These groups (which will include organizations doing on-the-ground work concerning these issues) will determine their focus for the year, goals, and make recommendations collectively based on evidence-based strategies and data.
The Safer Newark Council (SNC) is a cross sector group with public safety as its core focus. SNC was created after a 2014 public safety retreat, convened by Mayor Baraka, where public safety stakeholders from across the region met to discuss options for increasing public safety as a collective in Newark. The consensus at the retreat was to form a public safety council that focused on obtaining independent public safety data and using said data to make recommendations to implement evidence-based public safety strategies in Newark. SNC’s goal is to have a 20% reduction in violent crime and long-term, sustainable violence reduction.
SNC has three main goals:
- To provide an independent assessment of the current status of public safety in Newark to share with Newark’s citizens and stakeholders.
- To identify and promote a set of strategic priorities for improving Newark’s public safety citywide.
- To create a medium for aligning evidence-based and problem-oriented public safety initiatives with these strategic priorities, making connections between the city’s current array of public and private public safety activity, and identifying gaps in that work.
This report provides a snapshot of the state of violent crime in Newark for 2016-2017, provides a summary of key activities related to a violence reduction strategy, summarizes data showing significant reductions in violent crime that have occurred, as well as areas of ongoing concern, and makes recommendations for possible further reductions in violent crime.
The Safer Newark Council (SNC) was established in 2015 in response to local concerns about Newark’s murder rate. While similar cities across America were reducing violence even in the face of economic inequality, Newark’s murder rate was steadily increasing. The City’s stakeholders wanted to try a new approach to violence reduction. SNC’s strategy is based on a belief shared by Mayor Ras J. Baraka and many stakeholders: that higher levels of coordination between and among public safety interventions would produce higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness, thereby driving long-term, sustainable violent crime reduction throughout the city (and in turn, greater return on public safety investments for municipal government, local foundations and corporate funders). The need for a new strategy was necessary because of Newark Police Division (NPD) staff attrition and the impact of the US Department of Justice’s monitoring process (in response to a lawsuit over unconstitutional police practices), both of which affected NPD’s capacity. Since its inception, SNC has worked to coordinate public safety initiatives by defining a collective goal, coordinating existing resources and initiatives around those goals, and raising funds to advance those initiatives.
In order to implement SNC’s new approach to public safety, SNC established a public safety agenda based on current public safety data and conversations with SNC partners across the city, including law enforcement and the community. For its first (2016) report, SNC conducted an analysis of Newark’s crime which revealed that Newark’s murder and robbery rates were significantly higher than cities with similar demographics. As a result of these conversations and based on the crime analysis, SNC identified reducing murder (with an emphasis on those involving personal disputes, retaliation, and those involving individuals within the first year of reentry from incarceration) and reducing robbery as its two highest priorities.
SNC’s 2015-2016 Accomplishments
- Established priorities and set a public safety agenda based on data. Data analysis of Newark’s crime revealed the priorities of reducing murder (with an emphasis on retaliatory shootings, driven by personal dispute, and murders within the first year of reentry) and reducing robbery.
- Coordinated stakeholders, including the Newark Police Division, the Newark Community Street Team, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, and Rutgers-Newark’s School of Criminal Justice and Department of Psychology, around murder and robbery priorities.
- Reviewed existing public safety work.
- Served as a data source of independent, accurate data and responded to data requests from the community, providing neighborhood-specific data, such as crime hot spots, to guide public safety projects.
- Shared information including problem solving around business and public safety.
- Operated as a think tank providing data, research, and support for advocacy efforts, engaging with My Brother’s Keeper Newark, Opportunity Youth Network, Youth Policy Board, Children’s Cabinet, New Jersey Crime Survivors, and more.
- Joined Newark Downtown District’s monthly Quality of Life and Security Task Force, a standing meeting of businesses to assist with issues impacting perceptions of safety.
- Partnered with the City of Newark and Rutgers-Newark to obtain a $1 million reentry grant. The city of Newark sponsors the reentry grant and Todd Clear is the Principle Investigator for the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice. Rutgers School of Criminal Justice was awarded a $361,195 sub-contract to conduct the planning and evaluation phase of the grant.
- Supported the Newark Community Street Team, the City’s community-based violence reduction strategy, with operations, expansion, evaluation, and fundraising. Partnered with NCST on the bi-weekly South Ward Public Safety Round Table.
- Assisted with obtaining $850,000 for the Newark Community Street Team and Newark Police Division’s Targeted Deterrence Strategy. Maintained coordination between the two programs.
Over the past eighteen months, SNC has worked with law enforcement and the community on a number of initiatives and strategies aimed at reducing murders and robberies. An overview of their work is provided below.
Newark Community Street Team
The Newark Community Street Team (NCST) is Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s community-based violence reduction strategy. NCST trains and deploys up to 16 outreach workers who are residents of the South and West Wards. Through a relationship-based mentoring and case management model, the Outreach Workers support youth and young adults (ages 18-30) who are at risk of becoming either victims or perpetrators of violence. These services include case management, educational supports, wellness and employment services, legal assistance, and mentorship. Since October 2016, NCST has provided services to 100 mentees.
NCST also has a team of high-risk interventionists (HRI) who gather street intelligence in order to monitor for opportunities to intervene in brewing disputes with the potential to result in violence. The HRI team receives e-mail notifications from NPD of murders and shootings and they are able to respond in real time. NCST has executed 70 high-risk interventions in conflicts that may have resulted in violence, or after a murder or shooting, in order to prevent retaliation.
NCST also provides Safe Passage to help reduce criminal activity around schools, and intervenes in and mediates conflicts between individual and rival group involved youth at West Side High School, Shabazz High School, Weequahic High School and Speedway Academies in order to de-escalate these conflicts. NCST mediated or intervened in 24 high-risk incidents at the schools from October 2016 to present.
In March 2017, NCST launched the South Ward Public Safety Round Table (PSRT). The PSRT is a community driven forum at which law enforcement presents information about crime and violence in the South Ward and the community and law enforcement engage in discussion. The PSRT is building momentum and the information exchange has led to high risk interventions as well as creating connections to intervention services for those engaged in criminal activities. NCST also maintains on-going communication with NPD to receive mentee referrals and to discuss incidents in the community in which NCST can work to prevent retaliation. NCST is also a partner in the Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program, which is discussed below.
Targeted Deterrence Strategy (TDS)
The Newark Police Division (NPD) and the Safer Newark Council’s Law Enforcement Coordinator operated TDS in 2016. TDS uses data and intelligence to identify the gangs/groups and individuals who are the most at risk for becoming victims or suspects of violence (especially murder) in the city. Using probation and parole status as leverage to get individuals to attend, TDS had one “call in” at which gang and group members from the 4th and 5th Precincts were brought in and notified that if their group committed another act of violence, law enforcement attention would be focused on the entire group, not just the individuals involved. Overall, 17 individuals were present for the call-in which included speakers from the NPD, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and various community members. Call-in participants were also offered social services from NCST.
The City of Newark’s Office of Reentry (OOR) provides interventions to individuals who are returning from incarceration. The OOR has provided 100 previously incarcerated individuals (2 cohorts of 50 individuals), including referrals from the Newark Community Street Team, with transitional employment for six months. These individuals work for the Department of Sanitation, work 32 hours per week, and earn $15 per hour. Every Friday, these individuals attend a job skills training program at Essex County College in order to teach the employment soft skills that will assist them with obtaining permanent employment after their transitional work is finished. In addition, for those individuals who do not receive transitional employment, the OOR provides referrals for individuals to provide identification, professional attire for interviews, resume review, a one week job skills training course, and works with the individual to enroll them in a vocational training or assist them with finding employment.
In June 2016, the City of Newark’s Office of Reentry partnered with Rutgers University to submit the reentry proposal, the Newark Reentry Initiative (NRI). NRI provides services to the highest risk individuals who are returning home from incarceration. The Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded the grant to the City of Newark and Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice is a sub-awardee. During this past year, Rutgers and the Office of Reentry have been in a planning phase for this grant. The two organizations are designing a shared risk assessment tool that will identify the highest risk individuals who are being released from incarceration and NRI will adopt evidence-based program practices that will lead to a lower recidivism rate. NRI is a two-year program and is expected to launch in October 2017.
Numerous organizations are operating formal and informal offender-focused strategies, namely, intervening with supports in the lives of those at risk of committing robbery. The SNC is most familiar with two offender-focused strategies: the Call Out Program for Youth (COPY) and the Juvenile Repeat Offender Prevention Program (JROPP).
Call Out Program for Youth (COPY)
COPY began in 2014 as a collaboration among the Newark Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor, and Rutgers University-Newark. The initial goal of COPY was to ensure that any youth arrested for their first robbery offense in the City of Newark would have access to evidence-based intervention services. At the time of arrest, NPD Youth Aid officers offered youth and their families referrals for intervention services from Community Solutions, Inc., and/or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Union, and Hudson Counties. Families were informed that accepting referrals would be completely voluntary and have no bearing on the youth’s legal status. A preliminary “proof of concept” analysis of COPY indicated that youth whose families accepted these referrals and enrolled in services had a re-arrest rate of 0%, in comparison to youth whose families did not accept these referrals or accepted the referrals and failed to enroll. Those youth were re-arrested at a rate of about 25%. Since that time, the NPD’s Youth Aid Section has expanded COPY to include youth arrested in Newark for their first offense of robbery, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, receipt of stolen property, or a weapons charge. A formal evaluation of COPY, led by Rutgers-Newark, is underway. In 2016, 31 youth were offered COPY services. In 2017, through the end of August, 57 youth and their families were offered services.
Juvenile Repeat Offender Prevention Program (JROPP)
In September 2016, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness piloted JROPP, a recidivism prevention program targeted towards first –time offenders who committed robbery and are in the custody of police or courts. During the 11-month pilot, a licensed clinical social worker and two master’s-level Social Work students worked with 17 clients and their families and provided family-specific wraparound support tailored to mitigate the participant’s re-involvement in criminal behavior. JROPP relies on clinical social work and intensive case management services. Services include mental health services with licensed clinicians, dental/ physical healthcare, substance abuse counseling, employment assistance, vocational/ educational services, and housing assistance. The city will continue to provide support to this program.
Safe Passage and Community Walks
NCST’s strategy of supporting the individuals most at risk of committing violence in the South and West Ward also compliments the robbery reduction strategy. NCST also provides Safe Passage at schools to create a physical presence that can help reduce criminal activity, such as robbery, around schools. NCST also operates weekly community walks in the South and West Wards, which creates a physical presence to enhance safety and connecting the community to resources.
NPD Violence Reduction Strategies
Over the past two years, NPD has made sweeping changes to the division’s structure and organization. Since March 2016, over 300 police recruits have graduated from the police academy. While new officers were traditionally sent directly into precincts to begin their careers, they are now generally placed in walking posts for six months in order to establish relationships with residents and businesses in the community. Due to new officers being hired over the past eighteen months, over 100 officers were promoted to increase levels of supervision throughout the division.
In addition to the new officers and supervisors, the division is increasingly strategic with its deployment strategies by relying on hotspot mapping and intelligence. The new supervisors will reinforce the importance of the relationships between the NPD, the community, and businesses. NPD personnel have identified two key changes within the division that have helped drive down robbery and murder numbers (see data below). For robbery, the most important changes were the expansion of the robbery squad and a new lieutenant heading the unit who helped to improve the quality of the investigations. For murders, increased intelligence on potential retaliation shootings may have helped to drive down the number of murders in the city.
There are numerous community organizations engaged in powerful grassroots activities to make their neighborhoods safer by occupying physical space, supporting crime victims, and organizing community activities. These organizations include the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, Eyes Wide Open Hope, FP Youthoutcry, Newark Community Solutions, among others. More stakeholders in the city are embracing community-based, resident-driven violence reduction strategies. One notable example, L&M Developers, the new owners of Georgia King Village, have expanded the Newark Community Street Team. The Newark Downtown District and the Ironbound Community Corporation both enrolled staff in NCST’s violence interruption training in order to better understand this work. Other property owners and community-based organizations are considering investing in this strategy to keep neighborhoods safer.
In June, the New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital launched a hospital based violence intervention program (HVIP), modeled after successful HVIPs in the United States, with NCST as a partner. The New Jersey Trauma Center sees 2700 patients annually, with approximately 1500 victims of violence and over 600 firearm violence victims annually, making it among the highest volume of penetrating trauma in the nation. According to the hospital, recent literature shows that in Newark, violent crime and firearm violence follow similar patterns to infectious disease. HVIP programs in other major cities demonstrate measurable successes, including decreased retaliatory violence, decreased substance abuse and decreased trauma recidivism. Outreach Workers are trained as Community Healthcare Workers and are embedded in the trauma center, in order to respond to shooting and stabbing victims from the moment of hospitalization and offer appropriate interventions. The HVIP is the first in the state and promises to further reduce retaliatory violence and poly-victimization, which is essential to shooting reduction strategy.
In an effort to prevent domestic violence-related death and injury, in May 2017, the City opened the Shani Baraka Center to provide comprehensive services to meet the needs of women and their families in crisis and transition. The Center provides city services and hosts community partners designed to support victims and prevent re-victimization. The Newark Police Division’s Special Victims Unit is also housed at the Center.
Compared to 2015, during 2016, the City of Newark experienced a 13% decrease in crime, which was the first double-digit reduction in 50 years. Most notably, there was an 11% reduction in murders and a 23% reduction in robberies. Additionally, the number of nonfatal shooting victims decreased 22% from 2015 to 2016. Despite these successes, the amount of violence (including murder, robbery, and aggravated assaults) in Newark is still significantly above the national average and more work needs to be done. Progress continued in 2017. Murders decreased 23% compared to 2016 and robberies decreased 22%. Crime comparisons for 2015, 2016, and 2017 can be found below.
Unfortunately, in 2017, the aggravated assault and rape categories did not experience the same decreases that the other violent crime categories experienced. While the increase in rape is troubling, discussions with the Captain of the Special Victims Division within the NPD revealed a couple reasons why this may be the case, which include better documentation and reporting by the NPD, and increased awareness in schools and the community about sexual assault and sexual abuse which leads to increased reporting. While any rape or sexual assault is cause for concern, the percentage of stranger-to-stranger rapes in 2017 compared to 2016 has decreased despite the overall increase in incidents.
The increase in aggravated assaults is one area that will require additional analysis in the future to better understand why the increase is occurring.
Despite the decreases in murders and robberies in 2016, the murder/non-negligent manslaughter1 and robbery rates in Newark remain substantially higher than the national average. In 2016, the United States murder/non-negligent manslaughter rate was 5.3 incidents per 100,000 people. In Newark, in 2015, that number was 38 incidents per 100,000 people. In 2016, the murder/non-negligent manslaughter rate decreased to 35 incidents per 100,000 individuals. The chart below details the murder/non-negligent manslaughter rate for certain New Jersey cities. For the cities included, Newark experienced the most substantial decreases from 2015 to 2016.
The robbery rate in Newark in 2015 was 658 incidents per 100,000 individuals while in the United States overall, the rate was 102 incidents per 100,000 individuals. In 2016, Newark’s robbery rate decreased to 473 incidents per 100,000 individuals. Looking at other New Jersey cities, Newark’s robbery rate decreased more than the other cities included in the comparison (see below).
The precinct comparisons found below provide a better understanding of which parts of the city are driving the decreases in murders and robberies.
In order to better understand what drives the most serious violence in Newark, Dr. Leigh Grossman of SNC/Rutgers-Newark’s School of Criminal Justice, in collaboration with a member of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force, conducts a yearly murder analysis. Data have been collected since 2009 to track the changes in motives and demographics over time. Drug and personal disputes have consistently ranked at the top of the list. Meanwhile, murders with a robbery motive decreased from 22 incidents in 2015 to just 7 incidents in 2016, a drop of 68.2%. A breakdown of the motives for the 2016 and 2017 murders can be found below.
While the reduction in murders and robberies represent remarkable progress, nonfatal shootings have become an area of concern this year.2 In 2016, the city saw a 22% decrease in the number of nonfatal shooting victims; however, in 2017 there was a 31% increase in the number of nonfatal shooting victims. This is especially concerning since the circumstances underlying fatal versus nonfatal shootings are virtually indistinguishable.
Although significant progress has been made over the past eighteen months in the crime categories SNC targeted (murder and robbery), there is still more work that needs to be done in these areas and other aspects of public safety. In fall 2017, SNC will continue to focus on reducing crime and violence and will also adopt a public safety collective impact strategy, which focuses on specific issues that contribute to crime.
SNC as a Collective Impact Model
SNC plans to expand its work to tackle broader issues related to public safety through a collective impact model. SNC will organize and staff five working committees focused on violence reduction, victim services (to reduce retaliation), youth intervention, reentry, and community engagement. These groups (which will include organizations doing on-the-ground work concerning these issues) will determine their focus for the year, goals, and make recommendations collectively based on evidence-based strategies and data. Each committee will meet monthly, and a Steering Committee (comprised of chairs of each committee) will meet monthly to report on the progress of each committee. The Steering Committee will provide information on the collective impact model’s progress to the Advisory Board, which will meet quarterly to discuss, review, and recommend strategies for SNC. In order to provide accountability, SNC’s staff will also report to a smaller executive committee made up of members of the Advisory Board. SNC will also use data and attend meetings for organizations that address business/quality of life concerns, and perceptions of safety.
As previously noted, Newark is moving away from a total reliance on law enforcement to respond to and prevent crime to a more balanced approach in which law enforcement’s job is to respond to crime and others are increasingly empowered to prevent it. To support this strategy, the NPD is hiring social workers to provide case management and mental health services to specific individuals who are deemed to be at risk for engaging in violence. Including community based organizations such as the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition and the Newark Community Street Team in the public safety strategy gives access to perpetrators that law enforcement cannot obtain. The hope is the shift in strategy results in the 20% reduction in violent crime, and long-term, sustainable violence reduction. The SNC’s Violence Reduction Committee will continue to keep law enforcement agencies coordinated with community-based strategies to further reduce murder and non-fatal shootings.
The committee will also focus on robbery. While robbery has been dropping since 2013 and continues to drop, statewide, Newark remains in the middle. As discussed above, the COPY program is showing promising results. There is however, a big gap in programming that focused on 18-24 years olds, who comprise 40% of robbery arrests; COPY only services youth 14-18. An evidence-based offender strategy focusing on this age group such as JROPP should be retooled in order to address this gap. Addressing this issue will be one of the tasks for the Violence Reduction Committee.
In order to better understand the increase in aggravated assaults and nonfatal shootings, Dr. Grossman will conduct a detailed problem analysis focusing on the individuals involved and the motives behind the incidents. Recommendations will be made for the police and for community organizations and residents. The Police Division is already working on a revised targeted deterrence strategy and increasing collaboration with NCST.
The Center for Problem Oriented Policing at SUNY Albany recommends that an effective robbery strategy include two out of three of the following elements: offender, place, and target/potential victim. Newark has numerous offender-focused strategies and the police department maintains a public personal safety outreach campaign to help people avoid becoming crime victims, including warning people to pay attention to their surroundings, not use phones publicly, etc. Other than hot spot policing, place-based strategies focused on robbery have not been enacted. There are abundant neighborhood-level organizations, such as Upper Fairmount Neighborhood Association, Lower Broadway Neighborhood Association, Upper Vailsburg Services Organization, and more, that have been working to address public safety in their neighborhoods. While many have completed planning processes, implementation has not been funded. The Violence Reduction Committee can provide neighborhood associations with the data to pinpoint the robbery hotspots that can guide public safety strategies, such as tackling design or lighting on a particular block; however, these organizations need financial assistance to implement the strategies. The Safer Newark Council will help these organizations apply for grants to aid in the implementation of neighborhood level plans.
Despite the hundreds of murders and shootings and thousands of aggravated assaults and robberies in Newark, there are few services available to support crime victims and there is no referral system from the police department to services. The HVIP is the only hospital-based program to support victims but it only serves 75 clients per year. This means a large number of residents experiencing grief, physical and emotional trauma, and PTSD do not receive support to assist them with processing their trauma. Furthermore, intervening immediately after victimization can prevent retaliatory violence which accounts for many murders and shootings.
Funding opportunities do exist to support victim services; Newark could be competitive in applying for them if there were a collective commitment to creating and maintaining them. The state has been receiving Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding since 1984 and in FY15, the state received $53.9 million, up from $10 million the prior year. Yet, in 2015, the state gave the first and only small grant in an urban area to a program that supports victims of street crime. Furthermore, the Victims Compensation Board has a $10 million surplus that-with some advocacy-could be used to support a victims’ services model.
The SNC Victims Services Committee will work to ensure that victims are supported in order to prevent retaliation and re-victimization (essential to a shooting reduction strategy), to ensure that state resources are accessed in order to support this work, to ensure that all victims are supported within the hospital and upon release, to set up a notification system with the schools when children experience victimization, to advocate for changes in the victim compensation system to ensure that victims are served, and to train law enforcement about resources available to victims.
The Youth Intervention group will examine the connection opportunity youth and public safety. The term “opportunity youth” is a phrase used nationally to describe young people between the ages of 16 to 24 – who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. According to the Opportunity Youth Network, there are approximately 8,000 opportunity youth in Newark, and SNC seeks to better understand the relationship between this disconnection from the community and public safety. Youth Intervention explores strategies, such as effective implementation of the Attorney General’s Stationhouse Adjustment recommendations, that the school district, community, or the city can put in place for every type of youth, so that every youth in Newark has the opportunity to fulfill their potential. The Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) is currently gathering data and exploring different strategies that can meet this need. In addition, NPD and Rutgers-Newark’s work with Call Out Program for Youth (COPY) has been successful with youth ages, 14-18, who are arrested for a first time robbery offense. COPY connects youth to multi-systemic therapy and other services that encourages youth to not recidivate. During this past year, the program has included youth who have been arrested for more types of offenses and has gone citywide. The City of Newark is also exploring the possibility of hiring social workers to engage these youth using a case management model. This Youth Intervention group will focus on sharing data, working with specific types of youth, and recommending evidence-based strategies and interventions for those youth. Educators and community members will also be involved in this sub-committee. In addition, this group will be able to pool resources to serve more youth and raise funds to continue successful evidence-based strategies. This committee will stay connected to the Essex County Youth Services Commission.
The City of Newark’s Office of Reentry will implement the Newark Reentry Initiative (NRI) program, which will focus on individuals returning from incarceration who are at the highest risk of engaging in violence as a victim or a suspect. The Office of Reentry case managers will recruit individuals from Halfway Houses in Newark and the Essex County Jail who are within six months of release from incarceration. Individuals will volunteer for the program. Once the population has been identified and recruited, Rutgers-Newark faculty will conduct a risk assessment on those individuals. Once these individuals are selected, the individuals will be offered the following services: case management (including an Independent Life Plan and necessary referrals such as identification, welfare, and Medicaid), mental health group and individual counseling sessions that will engage the participants with Thinking 4 Change (evidence-based curriculum), a mentor, and transitional employment. Individuals will receive wraparound services that will support them in their transition to changing their lives and becoming a positive force in their communities. These services will begin pre-release (mentoring and case management) and will continue post-release. This City of Newark and Rutgers University-Newark is very excited to launch this innovative, cutting edge program in order to facilitate the decrease in the number of individuals who recidivate. Rutgers University-Newark will be evaluating the program. Other reentry organizations doing work in Newark and community members will also be members of this sub-committee as well.
Community engagement is the centerpiece of the collective impact model. The community drives, understands, supports, and provides input for the evidence-based strategies that are put into place to increase public safety. While also represented on other committees, community members and community-based agencies will comprise the Community Engagement Committee and advise SNC on the most effective way to shape Newark’s public safety narrative and make public safety data more accessible to the community so it can engage in the problem-solving process. The Community Engagement committee will advise SNC on how to make community meetings more engaging and plan Ward specific meetings with NPD, Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and Dean Brunson from Rutgers-Newark School of Criminal Justice. This committee will also assist SNC with public safety messaging. This past year, community engagement has been a challenge for SNC, which has created the opportunity to create a committee that would advise SNC staff on how to relay the public safety narrative that residents will tell about Newark’s next chapter in public safety.
The Safer Newark Council partners on the South Ward Public Safety Roundtable and participates in community groups focused on the Upper Clinton Hill and Upper Fairmount neighborhoods. The meetings consistently surface residents’ concerns about quality of life issues that have a significant impact on residents’ feeling of safety in their neighborhoods and may lead to serious crime if not addressed. These quality of life issues such as abandoned houses, poor lighting, and prostitution are generally not suited for a law enforcement response but residents do not know the proper agency to contact. The SNC can assist community organizations by providing maps produced by Dr. Grossman which can not only include crime, arrests, and calls for service but also locations of abandoned homes, areas known for prostitution, and any other quality of life issue as long as addresses or street boundaries are provided. Community members and community organizations are better suited to assist with these issues and can make more informed implementation plans when provided with the data and the proper resources. The Community Engagement Committee can make recommendations for strategies to address these issues such as block cleanups and neighborhood watches.
The SNC can also help to facilitate the process of reporting issues to the city such as code violations or absentee property owners, working with the community and social service organizations to improve the overall quality of life for residents and also help to reduce crime and violence.
As SNC continues to evolve, its next step will be forming a collective impact strategy for public safety in Newark. This innovative approach to public safety would be the first in the country and SNC is excited to assist the City of Newark in leading the way in addressing public safety in urban communities. Collective impact models have been successful in other cities such as Cincinnati, southeastern Virginia, and Somerville, Massachusetts in addressing issues such as education, environmental, and health issues. However, Newark’s collective impact model will be the first model in the country to address public safety. Collective impact models must be in operation for approximately three years before they can be evaluated.
There has been a radical change in the City’s public safety strategy in the past two years. Since his tenure as Chief of Detectives with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose has been vocal about the fact that law enforcement cannot prevent violence, they can only respond to it. Instead of simply demanding that law enforcement solve all public safety issues, Mayor Baraka is, for the first time in the City’s history, heavily investing in the community-based public safety strategy it needs in order to sustain the recent reductions in violence. The City of Newark’s public safety is trending in the right direction due to the Mayor, Public Safety Director, investments in community, and coordination among all the entities.
Each committee will meet monthly, and a Steering Committee (comprised of chairs of each committee) will meet monthly to report on the progress of each committee. The Steering Committee will also provide information on the collective impact’s progress to the Advisory Board, which will meet quarterly to discuss, review, and recommend strategies for SNC. In order to provide accountability, the SNC’s staff will also report to a smaller executive committee made up of members of SNC’s Advisory Board and use data to provide information to organizations so they can address business/quality of life concerns, and perceptions of safety.
Mr. Ras Baraka
City of Newark
Mr. Ron Beit
Dr. Irene Cooper-Basch
Ms. Michellene Davis, Esq.
Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Ms. Jill Johnson
The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership
Dr. Robert L. Johnson
New Jersey Medical School
Ms. Lakeesha Eure
Newark Anti-Violence Coalition
Ms. Lori Hennon-Bell
VP, Chief Security Officer