Crime is down

The rate of arrests, charges, and court action is up

Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante reported a 17.9 percent decrease in citywide crime in 2018.
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Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante reported a 17.9 percent decrease in citywide crime in 2018.

Crime is down in Hoboken according to data released by the Hoboken Police Department.

Every year, police departments around the country submit data on their cities’ crime stats to state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to information compiled by the Hoboken Police Department for 2018, crime rates dropped 17.9 percent compared to the year before.

The data

In 2018, violent crime decreased by 8.4 percent. Violent crimes consist of homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

There were no homicides in 2018, a decrease from one in 2017.

Last year, there were four rapes, a decrease from 10 in 2017. There were 23 reported instances of robbery, a decrease from 32 in 2017.

The only increase in violent crime was in aggravated assaults, from 88 in 2017 to 93 in 2018.

This contrasts with the 2016 and 2017 numbers that showed an increase in all violent crimes apart from aggravated assault which decreased.

Nonviolent crimes which consist of burglary, larceny, and motor-vehicle theft decreased by 19.1 percent.

Burglaries decreased from 121 in 2017 to 99 in 2018. Larceny offenses such as package and bicycle thefts decreased from 911 in 2017 by 20.3 percent to 726 in 2018. Vehicle thefts, on the other hand, continued to increase from 32 in 2017 to 37 in 2018.

According to Police Chief Ken Ferrante, larceny is theft from outside such as a package from a stoop or a bike from a rack. It also includes identity theft and shoplifting. Burglary is when an intruder enters an enclosed structure, whether it be a house, car, or garage, and a theft occurs inside. Robbery is a theft involving a threat or weapon.

Crime in Hoboken has been relatively steady. In 2016, there were zero homicides, two rapes, 22 robberies, 97 aggravated assaults, 104 burglaries, 809 larcenies, and 30 motor vehicle thefts.

Closure rate surpasses state average

According to the same annual report, the Hoboken Police Department’s closure rate surpasses that of the state average this year in five of seven categories, not including homicide and arson; Hoboken had no homicides or arsons in 2018.

Closure refers to incidents in which the perpetrator has been arrested, charged, and the case turned over to the court.

The police department’s closure rate for rape was 33.3 percent more than the state’s 29.1 percent. The closure rate for robbery was more than twice the state’s average at 73.9 percent compared to 27.2 percent.

The HPD’s closure rate for burglary was three times the state’s average, 44.9 percent compared to 14.8 percent, and the closure rate for motor-vehicle theft was twice that of the state’s average, 16.7 percent compared to 7.4 percent.

Hoboken’s closure rate for simple assault was only slightly higher than the state’s, 51.8 percent compared to 47.7 percent.

The two areas where Hoboken’s closure rate was lower than the state’s average were aggravated assault, (49.5 percent compared to 55.3 percent) and theft (17.3 percent compared to 20.1 percent.)

Ferrante said aggravated assault cases can be difficult to solve for a variety of reasons.

The majority of aggravated assaults occur on weekends and during holiday events such as Halloween and LepreCon, which include drinking and can lead to bar fights and street fights.

He said typically it occurs in a younger element of non-Hoboken residents in the 18-to-25 year-old demographic.

“A lot of aggravated assaults are bar fights and street fights between people who come here from out of town,” Ferrante said. “These transient people hear the sirens, and they flee, and because they are from out of town, oftentimes no one knows who they are.”

“Our investigations bureau is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and detectives are always on call so they are able to be at a scene and begin their investigation immediately even on holidays and weekends. “ — Chief Ken Ferrante

Ferrante attributed the high closure rates to several factors.

“Overall we are looking at a closure rate of 30.6 percent,” Ferrante said. “The barometer is usually if you’re over 20 percent you are in good shape. The first thing that greatly helped our closure rate is number one, our investigations bureau is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and detectives are always on call so they are able to be at a scene and begin their investigation immediately even on holidays and weekends. “

He said this is especially important because witnesses begin to forget facts of a crime or what a suspect may look like after 24 hours, so it’s important to interview the victim or witness immediately.

He said another key factor is communication between officers, and forwarding information to the uniformed division so it can be on the lookout for a particular car or suspect.

 Looking ahead

Ferrante said that although the department’s numbers were good last year, it won’t be resting on its laurels this year, noting that every year he and his command staff evaluate every member of the department, a total of 166 employees.

After the evaluation they look to see if personnel needs to be shifted, if there is a need somewhere else in the department.

He said he is also looking to make more advancements in the department including in areas of technology.

“We have two officers who are graduating pilots soon,” Ferrante said.”We have two functioning drones, and we will be getting a top-of-the-line drone which we will be able to utilize in a number of instances.”

These include flooding, emergency situations, when a suspect is attempting to flee on rooftops, and traffic.

He also said that while the state has not yet legalized recreational marijuana, the department already has two drug recognition experts. Only 100 are in the state.

The department will continue its community outreach and “coffee with a cop” meetings where he said the number-one complaint is pedestrian safety.

He said the department will report data related to car-on-car, car-on-bike, car-on- pedestrian, and bike-on-pedestrian accidents as they did the year before.

“We’ve seen an increase in crashes but a decrease in injuries,” said Ferrante, citing one cause as the city’s wider sidewalks and narrower streets.

Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com or comment online at hudsonreporter.com.