EAST ORANGE, NJ - The East Orange Police Division, under the leadership of Public Safety Liaison José Cordero and Police Chief Phyllis Bindi, launched the “Drive Right, Be Right” Campaign, a targeted effort to improve the quality of life throughout the city.
The campaign, which was created as a direct response to more than 1,000 citizen surveys conducted over the past few months, officially began on Wednesday, October 24, 2018.
Based on survey results, a large majority of residents feel relatively safe living and working in East Orange, and with good reason. Under Mayor Ted R. Green’s administration and during the tenure of First Ward Councilwoman Amy Lewis as Public Safety Chair, East Orange’s crime rate has dropped 21% overall and 29% in violent crimes compared to 2017.
But improving residents’ perceptions of safety and security require continually identifying the public safety issues that matter most to residents, and to focus police efforts on minimizing the negative effects they cause across all neighborhoods of the city, Cordero said.
“Using insightful and intelligence-led community policing, this campaign comprehensively addresses our citizens’ most pressing concerns, ranging from traffic safety, including pedestrian crosswalk safety, and aggressive panhandling to juvenile curfew enforcement and other quality-of-life concerns,” said Bindi. “Our goal is not to ticket or arrest people. Our goal is to be responsive to the needs of our residents and reinforce a culture where obeying the law becomes a lifestyle.”
During the first 21 hours of the campaign, police made nearly 500 motor vehicle stops, issued 398 motor vehicle summons, and effected 29 arrests for a variety of traffic, narcotics, and other offenses. Police engaged in hi-visibility crime prevention operations throughout the city, deployed a mobile camera to an area with of a high concentration of community complaints, and investigated suspicious activities, including aggressive panhandling, loud noise, reckless bike riders, and other quality-of-life complaints. Police officers interacted with over 100 citizens and informed them of the nature and purpose of the operation and reinforced awareness of city laws.
Bindi said the campaign is a multi-pronged initiative that includes awareness and education as much as it does enforcement.
Based on the surveys, traffic safety ranked among the top five concerns for residents.
In 2017, there were 1,927 motor vehicle accidents in East Orange. Expanded efforts this year have already resulted in 106 fewer accidents compared to this time last year. Officials are hoping that this new campaign, which includes “Cops in the Crosswalk” to improve pedestrian safety, will increase that amount even more. On the first day of the campaign, “Cops in the Crosswalk” yielded a significant amount of motor vehicle stops and summonses.
In addition to extra patrols, Bindi said police will conduct a variety of operations and use technology to identify violators and to minimize the number of traffic infractions and quality-of-life concerns that make our residents feel unsafe.
“More than a decade ago, there was a time when motorists were afraid to commit traffic infractions while traveling through or driving in East Orange because they knew there was a good chance that they would get caught. During that same period, potential criminals avoided our city for the exact same reason,” said Cordero. “We want to rekindle that feeling and make sure that our residents and visitors know that we are doing everything possible to make East Orange safe.”
Public safety remains one of the mayor’s top priorities and he commends the great work that has been done in the past few months to curb crime.
“We have had a steady decline in crime in 2018,” said Green. “A stronger police presence, strict enforcement, and consistent communication about our efforts are going a long way to making people feel safe. I encourage all residents to take heed to our warnings and follow the campaign’s slogan: Drive Right and Be Right.”