Newark police director: Bail reform law is increasing crime in the city

Some law enforcement agencies are saying that the new bail reform law is leading to an increase in crime in New Jersey.

Some law enforcement agencies are saying that the new bail reform law is leading to an increase in crime in New Jersey. (3/10/17)

NEWARK - The Newark Police Department says that there has been an increase in crime in the city and the police director is attributing to the new bail reform law that took effect this year.

Newark Police Detective and Union President James Stewart Jr. says that the new law signed by Gov. Chris Christie is letting criminals walk free and police are demoralized.

“Tomorrow you might be the victim of a crime because we let a guy go today,” Stewart says.

Part of the new bail law added regulations to keep more violent offenders locked up until their trial. But it also moved away from a cash bail system, so suspects accused of lesser crimes are let out without having to pay any bail.

Newark Police Director Anthony Ambrose directly correlates the increase in crime to the bail reform law. He point to the recent arrest of Amir Copeland, who has been arrested and released three times this year for allegedly stealing cars. Copeland allegedly led police officers on several car chases and crashes.

“We’re seeing an increase in property crimes since the first of the year,” Ambrose says. “We haven’t changed our staffing. In fact, we have more police officers.”

Christie said that the goal of the reform was to lessen the number of people trapped in jail because they couldn’t afford bail.

“That’s got to be counterbalanced against the thousands of people who were incarcerated who wouldn’t have created any crime and who now have become unemployed,” he said.

The Newark Police Department is asking the governor to reexamine the law.

“Low income doesn’t equate to ‘he’s a good guy,’” Stewart says.

Under the bail reform law a judge is supposed to determine how much of a flight risk a suspect is and whether or not they are a danger to the community.

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