NEWARK, NJ - Authorities from Newark and East Orange have a message for criminals who think they’re off the hook if they try to flee into either municipality: the police will pursue and officers are getting better at it.
That’s because police from both cities have created a small patrol unit to combat crime at the border. Mayors from Newark and East Orange today signed a memorandum of understanding solidifying the new program.
“No longer will our criminals or people who feel like they can break the law or take the law and do whatever they want with it … have the ability to move from city to city without being detected, without being apprehended,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said today at the East Orange Police Headquarters.
“We'll use our resources and our services that we have combined to be able to bring these people to justice and create opportunity and great neighborhoods for people who live up and down those corridors that border East Orange and the City of Newark.”
The resounding message today from the East Orange mayor and both cities’ public safety officials was that crime has no borders.
"...As we know, criminals don't have a boundary,” said East Orange Mayor Ted Green. “And the message we're sending today with partnerships [is] that we don't have a boundary, and we're going to pull all our resources together."
Specific locations along the border of the two cities were identified as areas with “major crimes," Green said. Some of those areas include the borders at South Orange Avenue and another at Park Avenue.
Kofi Owens, a high school teacher, was shot to death in East Orange on South 16th Street this past August, authorities and officials previously said. East Orange Public Safety Liaison José Cordero said all crimes -- not just that one -- is what prompted the creation of the joint border patrol.
"In addition to the homicide, we're looking at other crimes and that's what really lead to this initiative, right?” Cordero said. “We have information, we have intelligence of shared problems. Now we need a shared solution."
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said police will now be able to focus on citizen complaints along the border, including open-air drug markets, erratic driving and other "quality of life issues."
"This here makes it a little different,” Ambrose said of the program. “...You have an East Orange police officer and you have a Newark police officer in the same car. Working together is very important because an East Orange police officer knows his issues…”
The two officers -- one from Newark and another from East Orange -- will be committed to patrolling the border seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Eight to 10 police officers total from either city will alternate to cover the assignment, Ambrose said.
Commanders from Newark's 6th and 7th police precincts will coordinate with East Orange police for the new program. The officers on the assignment will each be equipped with radios from their respective cities and work together as a team to handle any situations that occur, Ambrose said.
Still, Newark’s mayor further explained, any suspected criminals will face charges from the city in which the activity occurred -- no matter who makes the arrest. However, the county prosecutor’s office will handle homicides, which is protocol.
Green, the East Orange mayor, credited the creation of the border patrol to one councilman from his city, Mustafa Brent. The councilman is the liaison for the council to the public safety department in East Orange.
“This is not an opportunity for over or excessive policing within our community,” Brent told reporters. “But it's an opportunity to establish or facilitate a culture that re-energizes that opportunity to bring back our community, our communal and familial institutions. “
Ambrose explained that similar joint border patrols already exist at Newark’s borders with Irvington, Bloomfield and Belleville.