Monmouth County Needs Regional Law Enforcement
There were three shootings in Asbury Park this afternoon, according to a report at NJ.com.
The shooting happened around noon on Mattison Avenue, near Langford Street, Detective Lt. David DeSane said. As of around 2 p.m., DeSane said he did not know the extent of the injuries.
Two people in the area, who asked not to be identified, said they heard four or five shots, but did not know what happened.
In the triCityNews last week, publisher Dan Jacobson said there have been four fatal shootings in the city, population 16,132, so far this year.
In their award winning series, Gripped by violence, published last October, four days before Superstorm Sandy, the Asbury Park Press said there had been an average of one shooting per week in Asbury Park through October 25, 2012 and that the city was second only to Camden in terms of violent crimes in New Jersey. That’s right, Asbury Park is more dangerous than Newark, Trenton and Jersey City, where there were also three shootings today.
Jacobson, a former State Assemblyman, is arguably Asbury Park’s biggest cheerleader. Yet his triCityNews column on Thursday is steeped in resignation.
Last weekend a twenty year old was shot and killed on the west side. It’s the fourth fatal shooting this year. And it’s heartbreaking.
A family is devastated. People aren’t safe in their homes and neighborhoods. And what’s most disturbing is that no one has an answer on how to stop this. All I hear are the stereotypical generalizations that give no solutions.
In the NJ.com story, City resident Joseph Dunbar, also expresses resignation.
City resident Joseph Dunbar said he was a few blocks away at Triumphant Life church when two officers came in and spoke to the ushers. Although he did not hear or see anything at Sunday’s incident, Dunbar said he has two daughters, ages 10 and 11, who have been caught in crossfire in the past but were not injured.
“It’s getting real dangerous for the little children to be out,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar said he participates in a program to talk to younger generations to see what they can do to help with the violence.
“I hate to say it’s a lost cause,” Dunbar said. “But that’s what it’s feeling like.”
Jacobson goes on in his triCityNews column.
Like saying it starts with family. Or we need more police on the streets. Wow, that really helps. Could someone tell me how we’re going to repair families? Or who’s going to pay to put more police on the streets? (emphasis added) And, even more importantly, will we let those police implement a program to pro-actively stop those they believe may be armed, and pat them down [a frisk] in the search of weapons.
As Jacobson would say if he was not resigned, “We’re here to help.”
Fixing families will take time and a community will driven by churches, educators, civic leaders, elected officials and law enforcement. There is no lack of that will or those leaders in Asbury Park. But none of that will work if there are not more police on the streets. More prosecutor’s officers in the city and a tip line offering $5000 to snitches is not enough.
Who’s going to pay to put more police on the streets? We are of course. By we, I mean the taxpayers of the State of New Jersey, and Monmouth County in particular, who are already paying 10’s of millions of dollars for Asbury Park’s municipal government through State aid, the Asbury Park School System through Abbott funding and a satellite office of the Prosecutor’s Office.
And it should not cost a lot more money. Maybe less money than we are already spending. It will take more of a moral and political will than money to stop the shooting epidemic and gang violence in Asbury Park.
Monmouth County has a surplus of police officers. While there looks to be a need for more officers in Asbury Park, in low crime towns, most of the county, honest police officers will tell you (I have heard more than one say it) that they are highly paid babysitters and traffic cops.
We need regional policing. If our law enforcement was managed regionally, we could redeploy officers from Middletown, Wall, Ocean or Colts Neck to high crime areas like Asbury Park, without hiring more officers overall.
I can hear the nay-sayers, special interests and lovers of the status quo screaming as I write this. Union heads, police chiefs protecting their turf and myopic politicians and bureaucrats.
The cost is too high not to share services. The human cost and the economic cost.
Let’s be crass and focus on the money, because that is the language of myopic special interests. Crime in Asbury Park is a drag on the Monmouth County economy. An increase in violent crime, as we are experiencing, can kill the fragile renaissance that Asbury Park has been enjoying, despite the weak overall economy over the last 6 years.
A safe Asbury Park will boost jobs, investment and property values throughout the county. A safe Asbury Park can flourish and grow to the point where it doesn’t need New Jersey taxpayers to fund its municipal operations and school system.
Camden, the only New Jersey city with higher violent crime per capita than Asbury Park, went to regional policing in April. It’s working. Daytime homicides declined 91% in the first 90 days of Camden County taking over law enforcement from the City of Camden. Overall homicides declined 29%.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd announced her plan to layoff her city’s police force in favor of a county-wide department in August of last year. It took over six months for the politicians and bureaucrats to make it happen. That kind of delay is disgusting when viewed through the results the first three months of the new police force produced. Politics and lawyering cost way too many lives during that delay.
Last week, Governor Chris Christie called on Mercer County to follow Camden’s lead to handle crime in Trenton, according to the Star Ledger.
“There’s no similarities to what’s going on in Trenton,” Christie said. “What’s going on in Trenton is what we used to do here in Camden, which is when things would spike we’d send in the State Police for a period of time to try to quell some of the violence. Then state police would leave and the violence would spike back up again.”
In Camden, a county police force replaced city officers, a tactic some have criticized as a union-busting scheme. Christie said another 100 police officers will hit the streets in December.
“It’s a good trend, but we’re not taking any victory laps over one quarter,” Christie said, referring to what he said were positive crime stats.
He praised Camden County freeholders and encouraged Mercer County freeholders to follow suit.
“Now that’s going to take the political courage they had here in Camden,” Christie said. “So let’s stop playing the public sector union politics and let’s start playing the public safety priority in this state.”
Why not Monmouth County? Politics and myopia.
The people who can stop the violence in
Asbury Park Monmouth County read this website or have staffers who read it for them. Legislators, Freeholders, Asbury Park elected officials and others, you know who you are. Get busy. Kids are dying.
“Now that’s going to take the political courage they had here in Camden. So let’s stop playing the public sector union politics and let’s start playing the public safety priority in this state.”
-Governor Chris Christie.