Hoboken’s violent and nonviolent crime rates decreased by double digits from 2018 to 2019, according to data released by the Hoboken Police Department this month.
Every year, police departments around the country submit data on their town’s crime statistics to state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to information released by Hoboken Chief of Police Ken Ferrante for 2019, violent crimes, including homicides, rapes, and robberies dropped by 34.2 percent compared to the previous year.
Last year, there were two rapes, 14 robberies, and 63 aggravated assaults.
By comparison, in 2018, there were four rapes, 23 robberies, and 93 aggravated assaults.
As in 2018, in 2019 there were no homicides.
Nonviolent crimes were also down from a total of 841 incidents in 2018 to 664 incidents in 2019 showing a 22.9 percent decrease.
Last year larcenies were down 22.9 percent from 726 in 2018 to 560 in 2019. Burglary was also down from 99 in 2018 to 73 in 2019, a decrease of about 26.2 percent.
Motor vehicle thefts were also down by 16.2 percent, from 37 in 2018 to 31 in 2019.
Collaboration and communication
Chief Ken Ferrante attributed the drop to collaboration between uniformed police and the investigative bureau, communication, and public outreach.
“It’s a combination of the proactive patrols of our uniform division and the strong investigative work done by our detectives and the information shared back and forth between the two,” said Ferrante, adding that it’s also due to the confidence of residents in the police department, which leads to their reports of suspicious behavior.
He also noted that apart from instances of domestic violence, juvenile arrests, or crimes of a ‘sexual nature,’ the department releases a “ton of press releases,” which he says solicits a higher degree of vigilance from the community.
“We also use social media and put out crime prevention ideas or alerts to the public to let them know what’s going on, and all of that boils down to a constant flow of information and communication between us and the residents and fosters that relationship,” Ferrante said.
Identity theft addressed
Although crime stats were down, Ferrante said there is still room for improvement and ways the police department can evolve.
One focus this year he said will be “white collar crimes,” such as identity theft, which he said is already showing an upward trend.
“We live in such a technology-driven environment now, “ Ferrante said. “When I came in as chief about six years ago, we started seeing more identity thefts, and now it’s pretty rampant.”
“We get multiple reports daily,” he added.
He said unfortunately this crime in particular is hard to solve because perpetrators are often outside the state and the country and get the unprotected information through the internet.
To help address these crimes, Ferrante said Captain Gino Jacobelli is creating a unit composed of several detectives to focus on these types of cases.
Another new initiative, which could be coming on line this year, is the use of drones.
Ferrante said the department would use drones for emergency situations when the Emergency Services Unit is deployed, such as during a mass shooting or hostage situation.
He also said he would like to use them for traffic control.
“We are the third most congested city in the country, and we have the second-largest transportation hub in the state … We could use a drone to monitor our traffic and our detour patterns to see if they are working and adjust them in real-time,” he said.
According to Ferrante, the Hoboken Police Department already has two certified drone pilots on the force but has been stalled in purchasing drones because it’s awaiting new directives from the state attorney general’s office.
Ferrante said he would also like to expand the police department this year. Currently there are 138 officers in the department, which is 11 below the official table of organization.
He said the issue is balancing retirees with finding new recruits. He believes fewer people want to become police officers, noting that typically police departments see an uptick in applications when the economy is bad.
He also said it takes about 13 to 14 months for recruits to become officers, from the time they take their civil service test, go through a background check, start in-service training, and become full officers, able to patrol on their own.
“The unfortunate reality is that we will be short until spring of 2021,” Ferrante said.
He said ideally he would like to have between 150 to 160 officers.
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