Newark calls on social workers and community to slow rise in violence

NEWARK, NJ – The violence didn’t start overnight in New Jersey’s largest city. And it’s not going to end overnight, officials say.

That was the message from Newark’s Director of Public Safety Brian O’Hara on Tuesday night as he outlined a plan to reduce violence in the city for the remainder of 2021. The announcement comes as Newark is grappling with a recent increase in gun violence and other violent crimes.

“The problem of gun violence is a complex problem,” O’Hara said. “We did not get into this problem overnight and it will not be resolved overnight. However, we will do everything in our power to end this year on a positive note, and with a sense of security and well-being for all of our residents. “

“We are fortunate that our police are working extremely hard and putting in long hours to retrieve illegal weapons,” O’Hara said. “The result has been a record number of illegal guns recovered from our streets, the largest since 2006, despite a police force that is a fraction of the size it was in 2006.”

But there is still a long way to go, he added, hence the new violence reduction initiative.

O’Hara divided the new plan into three parts: operational, investigative, and juvenile. Details include:

OPERATIONAL – “[The Newark Police Department] deployed new officers, assigned to the Community Concentration Unit, to ensure an increased police presence in the inner city of the city and to increase patrols in neighborhoods where there has been a concentration of criminal activity. “

INVESTIGATOR – “The number of personnel dedicated to the investigation and prevention of shootings, namely members of the shooting response team and the criminal intelligence unit, has both been increased by 30%. to speed up the closing of gunfire investigations. As a result, there were 7 arrests by shooting. this week and six illegal weapons recovered. Additionally, Newark Police have assigned a Liaison Officer to the Jersey City Police Department / Hudson Essex Advanced Technology Unit (HEAT) to leverage additional technology and resources to aid gun violence investigations. . with cell phones that provide access to ShotSpotter and city surveillance cameras. Police will also increase the use of their helicopter and drone for crime deterrence.

JUVENILE – “The youth component of the Violence Reduction Initiative will be referring young offenders to social workers for help. Police will also partner with the Brick City Peace Collective for Youth Engagement as well as the HUB Arts & Trauma Center, which offers therapeutic activities to keep youth engaged. The initiative also includes the juvenile court, in the way our juvenile unit handles post adjustments and provides safe passage to school, with increased police patrols near schools and the use of staff. fire departments in these areas and school resource officers in and around schools. “

“It is unrealistic to expect that Newark Police alone can solve this problem,” O’Hara said. Fortunately, through our partnership with the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, social workers in Newark will address the root causes of this gun violence, which is currently affecting every major city in America – some cities this year and last year recording the highest number of homicides ever committed. “

The Violence Reduction Initiative will involve the Newark Police Force working closely with law enforcement partners at the federal, state and county levels. Police will also seek help from community stakeholders, including the Newark Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, the Newark Community Street Team, and the Newark Street Academy to get ahead of “retaliatory violence.”

Residents who live in Newark also have a role to play, he added.

“This initiative requires the support of every concerned citizen who will express their outrage at the senseless violence that is happening on our streets and report crimes when they see them happening in their neighborhood,” said O’Hara.

“Ultimately, we want the community to know that gun violence reduction is our top priority and that we have several strategies in place to reduce violence,” O’Hara said.

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