Believing that the more cops on Jersey City streets the safer residents will be, Mayor Steven Fulop and top police brass swore in another 50 officers on June 17, bringing the total to 945.
When Fulop took office in July 2013, the force was below 780, the fewest officers in more than a generation.
The Fulop Administration began a campaign to bolster the force, as well as realign many of its functions to be more effective.
Though the force has had challenges over the last few years, including a scandal regarding off-duty hours, the city has made progress, graduating class after class of new recruits, promoting additional upper command, and restructuring some of the assignments.
Future plans include building a new police station in the Heights and relocating an existing station from Hamilton Park to a newly developed area near the Hoboken border.
Retirements have impacted the effort to increase the force, but they’ve allowed the city to lower its overall cost for police salaries, officials said.
Training cops incurs the expense of sending recruits to academies throughout the state, many of which charge higher fees to cities from other counties in an effort to cover operation costs.
Jersey City closed its training facility more than a decade ago and has been sending its recruits elsewhere, but training costs rise every year. Jersey City currently has two more classes that are attending academies.
Last year County Executive Tom DeGise recommitted the county to creating an academy in Secaucus, using the site of the former youth detention center. This would lower the cost of training officers for the county and its municipalities. Under state law, only counties can create and operate academies for training police.
More cops, less crime?
Mayor Fulop explained that the swearing in of the most recent class occurred when statistics show the crime rate has been on decline. Statistics for the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2017 and 2018 show a sharp drop in shootings and homicides.
“According to the city, data comparing the first six months of 2017 and 2019 shows shootings are down 70 percent — from 53 to 16 — and homicides are down 75 percent — from 12 to 3,” Mayor Fulop said. “Yearly totals show a decrease as well, although it’s not as striking. From 2017 to 2018, shootings dropped from 103 to 74. Homicides were down from 20 to 15.”
The administration emphasizes diversifying the ranks, while enhancing public safety citywide. This latest class is composed of 84 percent minorities to more accurately reflect Jersey City’s diverse population. It also has 15 women.
“We continue to positively change the culture of public safety here in Jersey City, and that starts with an expanded police presence with people who reflect and represent the community they serve,” said Mayor Fulop. “With additional recruits, we’ve been able to increase foot patrols in specific areas and strengthen the relationship between community members and officers. While we won’t stop until we get to zero, this ultimately has helped us see a significant decrease in crime citywide.”
The additional officers will aid efforts to increase police presence, walking patrols, community outreach, crime deterrence, and diversity recruitment initiatives.
“We’ve seen a 70-percent decrease in areas of major crimes in just the last two years,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “That’s a testament to the administration’s focus on increasing public safety. Crime continues to decrease, and we will continue to provide the necessary resources and personnel until every neighborhood is safe.”
Residents in a number of neighborhoods have been clamoring for greater police visibility. Stationing of police patrols in known trouble spots has been credited for the reduction of violent crimes in those areas.
For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Al Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com