Bail reform: Get the point?


Kearny police reported the arrest last week of a burglary suspect, whom they tracked to and apprehended in Belleville shortly after the crime — and who later walked out of KPD headquarters, free to roam, with just a summons in his pocket.

Don’t blame the cops. Blame N.J.’s new bail-reform rules.

Last Thursday, June 15, at 6:45 p.m., police said, HQ received two calls — one from the victim, one from an observant neighbor — about an intruder at a home near Madison Ave. and the Belleville Pike.

Officers David Bush and Dean Gasser responded and were told by the resident that she had spotted the man on her front porch, where he had apparently gained entry through an unlocked screen door, police said. He fled the premises when he realized someone was at home, police said.

Armed with his description and direction of flight,  the officers canvassed the area. On Passaic Ave., police reported, Gasser was alerted that a man fitting the suspect’s description had recently been seen walking across the Pike bridge toward Belleville.

Det. Sgt. Michael Gonzalez, Dets. Mike Andrews and John Fabula and Officer Daniel Esteves headed for Belleville, where they reportedly spotted the individual on Washington Ave., opposite the Town Hall. He was detained for questioning and was positively identified by the victim and the witness neighbor, who were brought to scene by Bush, police said.

Suspect Naphtali Dykes, 30, of East Orange, was arrested on a charge of burglary, booked — and released on a summons.

“He had to be,” a KPD source told The Observer. “Thanks to bail reform.”

Apparently, Dykes did not have enough PSA (Public Safety Assessment) points to warrant his being held.

Yes, detention of a criminal suspect in N.J. is now determined by a point system.

As explained in an October 2016 press release from state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino: “In order to assist law enforcement and judges in making decisions about a defendant, the Administrative Office of the Courts developed a computer-based automated risk assessment, known as the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), which accounts for the general nature and seriousness of the crime charged, as well as certain electronically stored criminal case and court history data documenting the defendant’s adult criminal and court-appearance history.

“The PSA provides three pretrial risk indicators: 1) a six-point ‘failure-to-appear’ scale gauging the likelihood the defendant will fail to appear in court; 2) a six-point ‘new criminal activity’ scale gauging the likelihood the defendant will engage in new crimes if released; and 3) a ‘new violent criminal activity’ flag, which flags defendants who are likely to engage in violent crimes if released.”

If you want to read the entire complicated bail-reform/point-system directive, you can find it on the attorney general’s website,

[Editorial comment: It is quite enlightening, detailing as it does what legal experts term the “automated pretrial risk-assessment process validated by extensive, state-of-the-art empirical research.” Impressive, no?]

In any case, the Kearny arrestee could not be legally kept in custody.

As our law enforcement source commented, “Isn’t this a great system?”

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