Education

South Orange Maplewood School District Violence and Vandalism at 10-Year Low; Most Maplewood Crime Down, South Orange Up

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Recent data released by the South Orange Maplewood School District finds a sharp drop in incidents of violence and vandalism in the schools, the lowest in at least 10 years, with the only increase coming in complaints of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB).

But even HIB cases remain low compared to just a few years ago and the overall data is the lowest since at least 2007 if not earlier, the report stated.

In the rest of Maplewood and South Orange, meanwhile, crime data recently released by the FBI shows mixed results. 

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The annual Uniform Crime Report from the U.S. Department of Justice -- which tracks violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglaries, arson and auto thefts -- indicates many crimes are down in Maplewood, but up slightly in South Orange.

In the schools, the latest report found 68 incidents of violence or vandalism during the 2016-2017 school year, less than half of the 155 incidents which were reported a year earlier.

Violent incidents dropped from 84 to 30, with vandalism cut from 20 to five, and weapons incidents down from 11 to three. Substance abuse took a sharp dip from 29 cases in 2015-2016 to 14 last year.

The only increase came in HIB complaints, up from 11 to 16. But that total remains low when compared to recent years: there were 43 in 2013-2014, and 44 in 2014-2015. 

Columbia High School had the most overall incidents, with 25, followed by South Orange Middle School at 24, but 11 of those were HIB complaints.

The schools report indicates the lowest overall violent and vandalism data since at least 2007, the last year for which the report offers such statistics. In that time, the closest total to the 68 incidents in 2016-2017 was 76 incidents in 2009-2010. 

Outside of the schools, the latest FBI data for 2016, which was released earlier this month, showed a slight drop in violent crime in Maplewood from 26 incidents in 2015 to 25 last year. Rape stayed at one incident, while robbery was up from 21 to 31. 

Property crime dropped from 382 occurrences to 331, while there were 43 burglaries compared to 57 in 2015. Larceny was down from 289 to 257, with auto thefts dropping from 36 to 31. There were no arson incidents in either year.

In South Orange, however, crime rose in all but two categories with 43 overall violent crime incidents in 2016, up from 32. There remained no murders in the village and one rape, the same as 2015. Robbery was up, however, from 25 to 31, while aggravated assault increased from six to 11. Property crimes grew from 272 to 333, with burglary almost doubling – from 34 to 60.

South Orange had more larceny complaints, up from 219 to 237, while auto thefts jumped from 19 to 36. Arson stayed the same with no reported incidents in either year.

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