SOCIAL ISSUES

Newark, East Orange team up for border war on crime

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

It isn’t much, but in East Orange, where residents fear crime much more than they actually experience it, law enforcement officials say they’ll take it.

“A whopping 92 percent of our residents are telling us they feel safe walking East Orange streets during the day time,” said East Orange Public Safety Liaison Jose Cordero.

Despite what they say is a 23 percent decrease in violent crime and 19 percent decrease in overall crime, police admit the border between East Orange and Newark — like a strip on South Orange Avenue — continues to be hot, with open drug markets and violence all too common.

“Our cities are so close. You can literally commit a crime in one and take two steps and you’re in another city,” noted East Orange Mayor Ted Green. “Criminals have been taking advantage of that because they don’t think anyone is paying attention, but today sends a strong message that the city of Newark and the city of East Orange is locking arms together.”

And that means a new agreement, formalized Tuesday by the mayors of the two cities creating an eight-officer squad that will have at least one car out every night during overnights. Inside, one East Orange cop and one Newark cop. The agreement allows for pursuits and investigations that cross the borders without cumbersome bureaucracy.

Crime at the Newark and East Orange border is nothing new. Mayors as far back as Sharpe James and Cardell Cooper have had similar agreements with varying degrees of success. But, said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, today is a different day.

“We have different resources now than existed eight, 10 years ago, different protocols, different opportunities in both our cities, our relationships are different,” said Baraka. “We’re able to share information on a larger level to help us get ahead of most of these things. What we need is boots on the ground now to respond to the information that we’re getting. This is an opportunity to make that happen.”

“It’s about partnerships,” added Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. “We can’t do it alone. Our federal partnerships, our state partnerships, our county partnerships, and today, a contiguous city next to us as a partnership. And all these all work in the direction and the citizens are the benefactors to all of this.”

Officials say this is an open-ended agreement, and East Orange joins Irvington, Bloomfield and Belleville, which have cooperative agreements with Newark, securing the border in a way that makes crossing it as safe as it is easy.