Crime drops 27.5% in Kearny

There was this belief, starting, oh, around a year ago, that the lockdown instituted by the government might lead to a spike in instances of domestic violence. And in some places, that’s exactly what happened.

But in Kearny, it didn’t. Not even close. In fact, despite the pandemic and a myriad of other factors that have led to an increase in crime in many urban strongholds — one only needs to look east to New York City for the proof — the Town of Kearny continues to buck those trends.

In 2020, overall, the Kearny crime rate dropped a whopping 27.5% over 2019, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report.

Police Chief George King made the announcement Tuesday night, May 25, when the mayor and council got together for its bi-monthly meeting.

And it was sweet music to everyone gathered for the meeting, earning King and his department universal accolades for continuing to steer the ship properly and safely.

“These numbers show that Kearny is a very safe community. While the pandemic likely had an impact in reducing crimes related to certain property categories, the overall drop in violent crime is a remarkable achievement,” Mayor Alberto G. Santos said. “It shows that the Kearny Police Department continues to be very effective in responding to calls quickly and making arrests when necessary, both of which are essential to maintaining public safety.”

The mayor also noted the KPD has effectively incorporated technology and cameras in monitoring key locations. The Kearny PD will also be joining departments across the state, effective June 1, employing body-worn cameras on most officers.

Following the announcement, King spoke with The Observer.

“Did the pandemic play a role? Sure, there’s a correlation,” King said. “But it’s much more than that. We had a tumultuous summer in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Tempers were flaring. There were protests. But our department didn’t hide — they did everything that was expected of them and more. We are ecstatic about these numbers.”

While his leadership has a huge impact on the rest of the department — he says none of this would be possible without the women and men who work for him.

“Our department is very proactive, very young,” he said.

Indeed it is.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the pandemic last summer, King reinstituted bike patrols as part of the department’s Community Oriented Police unit. The chief says that certainly contributed, as well, to the crime decline, especially as businesses were experimenting in their first foray with outdoor dining.

“They’re always doing their job and everyone is visible, even during the pandemic. Nobody hid out. Everyone was responsive. And when you combine all that, you get these numbers,” King said.

Here’s a look, then, at the seven specific crimes the report indexes:

Homicides: 0 in 2020, 0 in 2019; rapes (sexual assault) 2 in 2020, 0 in 2019; robberies: 14 in 2020, 13 in 2019; assaults: 29 in 2020, 41 in 2019; burglaries: 29 in 2020, 36 in 2019; larcenies (thefts): 377 in 2020, 541 in 2019; auto thefts: 67 in 2020, 84 in 2019; total indexed crimes: 518 in 2020, 715 in 2019.

Under King, the Kearny Police Department maintains full staffing and hires new officers annually.  The current total number of uniformed personnel is 105.

With a total population of 42,339 in the most recent census estimate, there is one officer for every 403 residents here.

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program generates statistics for use in law enforcement. It also provides information for students of criminal justice, researchers, the media and the public. The program’s primary objective is to generate a reliable set of criminal statistics for use in law-enforcement administration, operation and management.

The index used to also contain the number of arsons reported in communities, but it no longer does, King said.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.