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Orange Township Plans to STRIKE Out Crime with National Night Out activities - A better neighbors, better neighborhoods initiative

Myra Burks-Davis, MBD Strategies, LLC

Thursday, July 31, 2014 • 11:58pm

ORANGE, NJ – The final touches are almost complete for the City of Orange Township to roll out its annual National Night Out caravan and festivities on August 5th at 6pm leaving from The Freddie Polhill Law and Justice Complex at 29 Park Street, Orange NJ.  Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, Esq. and the City Councilmembers will lead a caravan of police fire and emergency management vehicles and apparatus throughout the City stopping along the way to join in the night out activities that are being sponsored in various city neighborhoods.  It is a day when neighbors come together and fellowship outdoors with a full complement of food, fun and community pride.  This year the first stop will be the South Ward and then the caravan will wind its way through the rest of the city with a final stop at the police station.  

Along the way there will be  prayer vigils, cultural presentations, singing, voicing of community concerns and plenty of laughter and celebration from residents who are doing what they can to have safe communities.  While Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, Esq. notes that participating in National Night Out activities such as this – is  one of his most important jobs, he also notes “that keeping neighbors and neighborhoods safe requires more than an annual event such as this.”

“My place is with the people and the people are in the neighborhoods,” said Mayor Warren. “That is where we live, raise our families and make our largest investments.  I see this night as an acknowledgement that the citizens are willing to be partners in making Orange a better, safer place.  I share that commitment every day, all year long.”

The Mayor points to the success of the city’s ongoing crime prevention efforts with the STRIKE program which in 2013, yielded 470 arrests, 1,154 charges and over $10,000 being seized in drug arrests. “This program continues as it’s necessary to keep our efforts consistent and current with the trends of the greater law enforcement community. It is under this direction that we’ve instituted several initiatives that provide an uncomfortable atmosphere for criminal behavior and forces the general public to recognize and respect the motor vehicle laws of the State of New Jersey and within the City of Orange Township,” the mayor continued.

According to the city’s Unified Crime Reports (UCR) compared to 2013 the City of Orange Township is  enjoying a :

-100% decrease in Homicides

-34% decrease in Robberies

-26% decrease in Aggravated Assaults

-20% decrease in simple assaults

-39% decrease in Burglaries

According to Police Director Hakim Sims many of the decreases are directly attributed to the efforts of STRIKE 2013/STRIKE 2014 and were accomplished because of several operations conducted during STRIKE. Some include the following:

-High visibility in areas of concern (Hot Spots)

-Increased directed patrols on Main Street   (Special Police Officer-Walking Post)

-Collaborations with the Essex County Prosecutors Office during violent crime investigations

“This year we are adding an approach to address our crime by directing the officers to increase their awareness toward motor vehicle violations in troublesome areas. This approach assists us by increasing the presence of police officers in targeted areas while actively engaging in policing,” said Sims. “It is no secret several arrests come from motor vehicle stops. Some are from narcotic or illegal contraband arrests and many are from warrant arrests.”

Sims also noted that the plan to address crime from a motor vehicle perspective is not new or unfounded. It is being supported by Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and two agencies of the Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice. Sims said “It is our belief and trust, with the utilization of local resources combined with our continued efforts of STRIKE, this approach will help reduce social harm and increase community support. Some of the strategies to be used will include:

-Speeding enforcement utilizing available technology

-Motor vehicle check points conducted in high crime areas

-Some areas will have an officer posted to monitor frequent motor vehicle infractions

-Driver education materials to be distributed to our community groups with the request they share them with their members and family.

-Essex County Prosecutors Office has offered the use of their Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR). To increase the enforcement of vehicles in violation and as a means to identify vehicles that may have been involved in crimes, we will mount an ALPR to a street sweeper on the days it’s in operation and record the data it retrieves. Summonses will be issued and pertinent data will be recorded.

 In addition to the aforementioned initiatives Orange Police Department  has entered into new collaborations with outside agencies and plans to begin new initiatives with departments within this city:

“We have been working with the West Orange Police Department on several narcotic investigations on our border for several weeks. Numerous arrests have been made and we expect positive change in those areas for the summer. Plans with East Orange, South Orange, and Montclair Police Departments are in planning stages. While the Essex County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to increase their visibility not only in Orange Park but through the corridor of Central Avenue and streets surrounding the park. This will also give increased police activity along those streets,” noted Sims.

In the 2013 STRIKE report Police Director Sims also noted:

·         NJ Transit Police Department has posted their “sky watch” apparatus at the Orange Train Station following a request to assist us.

·         Discussions have occurred with NJ State Police to have them use our substations on Essex Avenue and Central Place. Their sporadic presence will curtail some opportunistic criminal activity.

·         We’ve assigned officers to federal task forces to increase our range of enforcement within the City of Orange Township. Federal agency investigative resources extend beyond our capabilities and will be a great asset in our efforts.

·         If we are to address crime, it’s necessary to address some of the causes.  We plan to bring our Chaplain Corps into this initiative so they might begin to help with our at-risk youth and young adults who may be inclined to engage in deviant or criminal behavior. Our City’s Community Affairs Department and local community groups will also be solicited for their suggestions and assistance.

·         There is also a Prisoner Re-Entry program being developed to assist released felons so they can positively assimilate into society. This program is in its infancy, however the efforts involved are proving it will be the model to follow throughout the State of New Jersey.

·         Lists of abandoned properties that have become eyesores and havens for criminal activity throughout the city will be reviewed then addressed by the police department and departments of the city. Quality of Life reports will be completed by officers and forwarded to the appropriate city authority for ultimate review and direction of action.

“This plan for the Summer and Fall of 2014 will be successful due to the combined efforts of events like National Night Out and yearlong program commitments like those noted in the STRIKE initiative,” the mayor said. “As we progress through the plan, consistent monitoring will take place for needed changes and additions. It is the overall approach toward public safety and community wellness we believe that makes the difference. Through these efforts we expect marked difference in crime data and citizen appreciation for the Orange Police Department.”

For information and updates on this event and other activities in Orange please visit us online at www.ci.orange.nj.us — and subscribe for email alerts, follow us on Twitter @CityofOrangeNJ,  like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/orange.jersey

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