On November 30, 2016, representatives from the Newark Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office, along with community groups and residents, met with 17 probationers and parolees from the West and South Wards to deliver one message, “the violence has to stop.” The event was a “call in” and part Mayor Baraka and Director Ambrose’s Targeted Deterrence Strategy (TDS), which seeks to reduce the number of murders in the city. TDS makes three promises to meeting attendees who are all classified gang members: 1. The next gang member to kill someone will bring the attention of law enforcement to the entire group, 2. The most violent group will also receive special attention from law enforcement, and 3. Anyone who wants an escape from street life can get help from the Newark Community Street Team. Meeting attendees are considered messengers and they are told to bring the message back to their associates.
The hope is that identified perpetrators of violence will change how they respond to disputes in order to avoid bringing attention to the whole gang, not just the individual(s) involved in the incident. This type of targeted enforcement directs scarce law enforcement resources to the individuals that need the most attention. While the promise made by law enforcement officials generally focuses on making arrests, they also make the promise of help.
TDS partnered with the Newark Community Street Team (NCST) which offers case management and referrals to services including job training, GED classes, legal services, and more. NCST also mediates disputes in an effort to prevent future violence. Members of the NCST come from Newark and more often than not, share stories similar to the meeting attendees. NCST members spoke of the pain of losing loved ones to violence in Newark and how they changed the direction of their lives after incarceration. While NCST does not directly work with law enforcement, their message is the same: “the violence has to stop and we are here to help you.”