North Bergen Police Department Chief Robert Dowd shared the department’s 2017 annual crime report at the April 11 Board of Commissioners meeting. The report shows that crime dropped in most categories from 2016 to last year, although robbery remained about the same.
According to the 2016-17 Uniform Crime Report, aggravated assaults dropped to 52 last year from 55 the year before. Rape dropped to nine in 2017 from 17 in 2016. Also in 2017, the department responded to 55 burglaries, down from 82 in 2016. Car thefts dropped to 66 in 2017 from 78 in 2016.
There was one reported murder in the township in 2016, but none for 2017. The 2016 murder, said Dowd, was the only one in North Bergen in five years.
Arson offenses saw a decline from 2016 to 2017—from three to one.
There was still room for improvement. The Police Department noted 35 robberies in both 2016 and 2017. But robbery has dropped 3 percent over five years, Dowd said.
Dowd said the town saw fewer arrests in 2017 for serious crimes. However, arrests for minor offenses such as simple assault and loitering jumped to 768 last year, from 517 in 2016.
“The reason for this is, because we have such less crime, detectives can actually focus on much smaller things,” Dowd said.
Overall crime in the township dropped to 2,332 last year from 2,537 the year before.
The department saw 111,487 service calls last year, according to the report. They made 1,110 arrests and 16,557 motor vehicle stops, and they launched 1,729 police investigations.
With the town’s expansive CCTV system, the department also held 7,995 virtual patrols last year.
The 1,110 arrests in 2017 were up from 948 total arrests for 2016. Dowd attributed this to numerous factors, including increased productivity from using CompStat and bi-weekly accountability meetings for every North Bergen police officer.
“Because we have such less crime, detectives can actually focus on much smaller things,” Dowd said.
Officer, musician honored at meeting
Also at the April 11 meeting, a proclamation was issued for Officer Eric Weyand. Since joining the department in 2015, Weyand has stood out from his peers, the department said. For 2017, he led the department in arrests with 47; he also gave out 961 summonses.
Hector “Bomberito” Zarzuela, a musician from the Dominican Republic who currently resides in North Bergen earned a proclamation at the meeting. Zarzuela has been passionate about music since youth. He was part of his high school band and attended the Academy of Music in his native homeland after graduating high school.
Zarzuela also played with a band called The Bomberos (The Firemen). Today, he continues accepting offers to perform throughout the Caribbean, the Americas, and locally.
A third proclamation at the meeting declared town support for the 2018 Distracted Driving Crackdown, which runs nationally from April 1-21. Police will be looking for those using their phones and other distracting actions while they should be focusing on driving. Distracted driving has killed people inside and outside of motor vehicles.
New lights coming
Another resolution passed at the meeting will direct PSEG to install lights at the following locations: 34 74th Street, 6207 Meadowview Ave., 4607 Liberty Ave., Churchill Road, Charles Court and 28 74th Street.
New gear for police
The commissioners also passed resolutions to purchase upgrades to mobile data computer infrastructure, and to upgrade vehicles. New equipment includes Panasonic Toughbook tablets, ruggedized keyboards, vehicle docks, mounts, and scanners.
Police are also working on implementing an intelligent, data-based Early Warning System (EWS) software suite. This system, the department says, will allow it to predict police officers at risk of engaging in “undesirable” behavior and implement early interventions to prevent that behavior, rather than dealing with it after an incident. According to the crime report, such incidents include “adverse interactions with the public or other safety issues.”
The department currently has an early warning system, but its capabilities are limited, the department says.
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