Once known for violent crime, Newark seeing a turnaround

Newark lowers crime rate

NEWARK, N.J. -- As Chicago searches for a solution, there is good news in another big city that has struggled with violence. Newark, New Jersey’s murder rate has dropped 10 percent in 2016.

Other crimes are down, too. So what changed?

In a city where violent crime scenes were all too familiar and the police department is under the watch of a federal monitor, Police Chief Darnell Henry and other city officials have been working with state and county law enforcement to reduce crime.

demarco-morgan-newark-crime-rate-2-2016-12-27.jpg
Violent crime rate is down in 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. CBS News

The community has “to have faith and confidence that the police are going to help them -- not occupy their neighborhood, when they see violence and crime, they report it,” Henry said. 

New Jersey’s largest city has not only added more police, they have reassigned many of them to street beats and partnered with citizens groups to promote community policing. 

Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the city is targeting gun violence, adding more officers to its shooting response team.

“We are treating it like a homicide,” Ambrose said. “We are sending out intelligence people, we are sending out a team of detectives, and taking these people off the street before they did their second shooting or a murder.”

demarco-morgan-newark-crime-rate-3-2016-12-27.jpg
A police officer in Newark, New Jersey. CBS News

Non-fatal shootings down are down 21 percent, robberies are down 23 percent, auto theft is down 16 percent. 

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said you “absolutely” can’t do it alone -- the community has to be a part of it. 

“They have to have faith and confidence that the police are going to help them,” Baraka said. “Not occupy their neighborhood, when they see violence and crime, they report it, that they give people help. That they turn people in.”

Cassandra Dock is a community advocate in Newark.  She said these efforts are not enough, and she said she doesn’t say the word “down” when describing crime numbers. 

“I don’t like to use that word ‘down’ when you say that to a mother, particularly to a mother that just lost her child that doesn’t sit well with that mother,” Dock said. 

There have been three homicides here in Newark since last week. Officials said they are not claiming victory with Tuesday’s announcement. They are simply calling it progress.