By Karen Zautyk
The Town of Kearny’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report Index has been released and shows a 2.5% total decrease in the prime categories, which represents a 13-year low.
The data, provided by the Kearny Police Department and released by Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council, shows 1,286 reported crimes for last year, compared with 1,320 in 2012.
“While the decrease in crime for 2013 was modest, the recently released numbers [also] confirm the significant drops in crime that occurred from 2011 to 2012 when reported crimes fell by 18%,” a statement from the mayor and Council noted.
According to the report, the category with the highest tally was larcenies, which showed a slight increase, from 633 in 2012 to 642 last year. That, Police Chief John Dowie told The Observer, is “probably because of the big jump in shoplifting.” Despite the count, it is still a far cry from the 867 larcenies recorded in 2001.
After three consecutive years with no homicides, Kearny did record one in 2013: the Jan. 17 killing of 16-year-old Alishia Colon in her Belgrove Drive home. All four suspects, none from Kearny, were arrested soon after the crime on charges of first-degree murder.
There was a small increase in motor vehicle thefts, from 131 in 2012 to 136 in 2013, and the number of rapes was three in each year. Authorities said these involved individuals known to each other, as opposed to street attacks.
All the other categories showed decreases.
Robbery: From 53 in 2012 to 41 in 2013
Aggravated assault: From 44 to 33
Simple assault: From 331 to 319
Burglary: From 123 to 110
Arson: From 2 to 1
The data also show a total of 1,275 arrests. According to the township statement, “A majority of the persons arrested were not residents of Kearny but instead from neighboring municipalities in Essex and Hudson Counties.”
“These numbers show that the Kearny Police Department continues to be very effective in responding to calls quickly, which is necessary to deter criminals and maintain public safety,” Santos stated, noting also that surveillance cameras and license plate recognition cameras were installed last year at entry points to the town.
Not included in the crime report, but of equal interest, are the KPD incident stats, which cover more than crimes. These show that in 2013, the KPD responded to a total of 28,537 incidents, which include but are not limited to: town ordinance violations (1,400); medical calls (2,450); towed vehicles (1,180), and noise complaints (647). Along with 1,245 false-alarm calls.
The total number of uniformed personnel in the KPD stands at 99. The townshp report notes that this represents a ratio of one officer for every 411 residents in the community of 40,684 (2010 census tally).
Dowie, a lifelong Kearny resident who has served as police chief since 1998, told The Observer, “We’re down to under 100 people, and I’m not happy with that.” But he emphasized that the problem lies in the 2% spending cap imposed on municipal budgets statewide. “I don’t fault the town fathers at all,” the chief said. “They’ve been very supportive.”
As for his officers, Dowie said, “I tip my hat to them. They’re holding their own.” But the danger is they can get worn down. “I don’t want to see the department go from a proactive department to a reactive one,” the chief said.
Santos noted, “Kearny is very fortunate to have a police department as effective as this one is in arresting criminals and deterring crime . . . they continue to perform the job at a very high level, ensuring that Kearny remains a safe community.”