November 16, 2009 - Councilman Rice Addresses Lack of Response by Newark Police
NEWARK COUNCILMAN RONALD C. RICE LAUNCHES COMMITTEE TO ADDRESS LACK OF RESPONSE BY THE NEWARK POLICE DEPARTMENT
November, 16, 2009
New West Ward Crime and Safety Committee will work resolving ongoing issues with the Newark Police Department; of particular concern is the delay in the installation of additional surveillance cameras in known high-crime areas
(Newark) – West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice, in an effort to respond to numerous requests from the community about public safety, today announced the formation of the West Ward Crime and Safety Committee, a new committee whose purpose is to seek resolution from the Newark Police Department regarding specific public safety issues in the West Ward. Of particular concern is the change in the patrol schedule in the area surrounding Mt. Vernon School-site of the brutal slaying of three of Newark’s promising young college students. Councilman Rice was joined at the announcement by Essex County Freeholder Rufus Johnson.
The new committee will work specifically on seeking answers and support from the Newark Police Department on the following issues: reconciliation between the decrease in the citywide shooting and murder rate and the increase in criminal activity in certain areas in the West Ward; the status of the installation of surveillance cameras that were paid for with $300,000 from the West Ward Neighborhood Stabilization Fund; the plan for the mini-precinct on So. Orange Avenue, and the scheduled opening date for the new precinct on Irvington Avenue; the status of the open crossing guard positions at MLK and other West Ward schools; and a statistical report of murders and shooting in the West Ward from 2006 to the present.
“As a legislator, I have done my part on all of these issues, specifically when it comes to appropriating the dollars necessary to implement a new vision for Newark, providing for additional surveillance cameras to help fight crime,” Rice says. “However, I do not have the power to implement, and it has rested for far too long without action or movement,” says Rice. “We are forming this committee as a constructive and proactive engagement of West Ward residents, political leadership, our educational and non-profit community partners and concerned citizens to gain accountability within our City’s government regarding the issues of crime and public safety. In essence, we as a community are willing to step up and do our part to police our own neighborhoods, but we are looking for the administration and the Newark Police Department to honor their commitments to increased patrols in that area, and to provide satisfactory answers to the other questions I have repeatedly asked,” he added.
Since the 2007 killings, Councilman Rice has worked with members of the community to set up block associations and organize community patrols, particularly in high-crime areas. The West Ward Block Federation meets monthly and provides crime watch training to block and tenant associations. Additionally, Rice is currently organizing the West Ward Community Patrol, consisting of men in the community patrolling the ward and reporting suspicious activity. The first meeting will be held tomorrow.
“The NPD has a tough job to do, I applaud the efforts of the Mayor and the Police Director to decrease murders and shootings during the last three years,” Rice continued. “Especially of note, the police captains in my Ward are extremely responsive to issues I have brought to their attention. However, overall, we as a community are now asking the NPD to honor their commitments, and give us the tools we need so that we all can join in those efforts and fight crime more effectively.”
Community members already named to the committee include: State Senator Ronald L. Rice; Essex County Freeholder-At-Large Rufus Johnson; Loucious Jones, community activist; Bertha Dyer, Principal, Mt. Vernon School; Keith Barton, Principal, Ivy Hill Elementary School; Houston Stevens from the Ivy Hill Neighborhood Association; Mike Farly, from Unified Vailsburg Services Organization; Rev. Mamie Lee, Block Association Networking District (BAND); and Vivian Frasier from the Urban League of Essex County.
The West Ward Block Federation meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. (Locations vary.) The West Ward Crime and Safety Committee will meet immediately following the Block Federation, at 7:30 p.m. The first organizing meeting for the West Ward Community Patrol will take place Tuesday, Nov. 17
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