Kearny crime rate is at 15-year low


The Kearny Police Department has released its Uniform Crime Report Index for 2015, which covers nine categories of major offenses, and it shows the lowest crime rate for the township in 15 years, Chief John Dowie announced.

In 2015, there was a total of 1,130 major crimes reported, which represents a 12% decrease from 2014, when the overall tally was 1,285.

The compilation is from the Uniform Crime Reports Unit of the N.J. State Police.  “Every police department is obliged to submit statistics to the state,” Dowie told The Observer, noting that this is normally done on a monthly basis. Data are provided in the mandated categories: Homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

For the second year in a row, Kearny recorded no homicides. In fact, there has been only one in the last six years: the 2013 murder of 16-year-old Alisha Colon in her Belgrove Drive home. (Last July, her convicted killer, Cruz Martinez of Pennsylvania, was sentenced to life in prison.)

By far, the most common major crime was larceny, with 608 incidents recorded.

However, even that went down: In 2014, the tally was 694.

The second most common offense was simple assault, which also declined, from 300 in 2014 to 262 last year.

There was also a significant drop in motor vehicle thefts, from 122 in 2014 to 89 in 2015.  (But please continue to heed the repeated PD requests to lock your cars!)

Did anything increase? Yes. Burglaries were up, from 82 in ’14 to 99 last year.

And there were two incidents of arson, as opposed to none in ’14. Regarding burglaries, Dowie noted that until 2015, “there had been a gradual decease” since 2011, when there were 183. “Burglary is a drug-driven crime,” the chief said. “You get one guy or a duo on a spree. That’s why drug interdiction is so important. If you keep the pressure on the drug offenders, you generally find that the burglaries are reduced.”

The remaining categories were: Rape, none in 2015 (five in ’14); robbery, 28 (36 in ’14), and aggravated assault, 42 (46 in ’14).

The Uniform Crime Report Index covers data from 2005 through 2015. In ’05, the township total in the nine categories was 1,543. Compared with 2015, “that’s a pretty significant drop over the last decade,” Dowie said, noting,  “One year (2011), it spiked up to 1,622.” That spike he attributed to “a rash of car burglaries.”   (Lock your cars!)

Commenting on the Index report, and the crime decrease, Mayor Alberto Santos said, “The numbers are very impressive.”

He noted, “It shows what we know about our Kearny Police Department — that it is a highly effective police force.” What the public also knows, he said, is that, “when there is a call to the Police Department, there is a prompt response, which serves as a deterrent to anyone with the intent of committing a crime in our town.”

The mayor also remarked on “the confidence and trust” the people of Kearny have in the KPD. This means that “the community is not hesitant in calling them, or in speaking to an officer walking the beat, and sharing information to keep to the community safe.”

In addition to the Index, the KPD also released stats on a variety of police responses during 2015. In all, the department recorded 25,602 incident reports.

The highest number involved medical/EMS calls: 2,367. (Remember, police officers “protect and serve.”)

Among the other ’15 statistics: Total number of bookings, 1,057; shoplifting incidents, 193; domestic violence incidents, 293; DWI bookings, 50; criminal warrant bookings, 110; drug possession/distribution bookings, 171; noise complaints, 587; lockouts (vehicle and residential), 351; town-ordinance violations (non-parking), 152. Also: Towed vehicles, 1,435.

Regarding the 15-year low in local crime, Dowie credited KPD officers with being “proactive and alert while on patrol.” In addition, he said, “I also have to credit their use of the technology available to us in the form of Mobile Data Computers and license-plate readers. These proved very valuable in the mall areas at the end of the year, alerting us to stolen vehicles and/or stolen license plates.”

In 2015, as it had done previously, the department concentrated personnel in the mall areas during the holiday shopping season. Not only were patrol vehicles there, to increase police visibility and provide a deterrent to crime, but officers also did store walk-throughs. Dowie explained: “That deters disorderly conduct and shoplifting in the stores and also gives the shoppers a more secure feeling, and it lets our officers interact with the public.”

“Given our downsizing,” the chief added, “I thought it was quite an effort for our department to put forward.”

Dowie also noted that local crime-fighting has benefited from information-sharing with other law enforcement agencies. “We’re fortunate to be able to network not only with police departments in the surrounding communities — sharing alerts and BOLOs — but also to be part of the very active Rt. 21 Corr-Stat and the RTCC, Real-Time Crime Center.”

Corr-Stat is a collaborative effort among local, county and state authorities to reduce crime along the Rt. 21 corridor. The RTCC, based out of Newark, is a state-run information-sharing initiative. Said Dowie, “They do everything in their power to give us the most up-to-date information on such things as crime trends, carjacked or wanted vehicles, wanted persons, etc.”

Just a couple of more statistics. As noted on the Town of Kearny’s website, “The total number of uniformed personnel in the Kearny Police Department at the end of 2015 was 108.  With a total population of 41,389, there was one officer for every 383 residents in Kearny.”

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