Newark officials want police department to be more community-minded

Newark’s public safety director says to expect a changing Newark Police Department in the near future.

The Newark public safety director wants the Newark Police Department to be more community-minded.

The Newark public safety director wants the Newark Police Department to be more community-minded. (4/20/16)

NEWARK - Newark’s public safety director says to expect a changing Newark Police Department in the near future.

Director Anthony Ambrose and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka outlined new police department reforms, which will take place over the next three months.

Ambrose says to expect “a kinder, gentler police department.”

Within the next 90 days, 100 police officers will be wearing body cameras to record their interactions with citizens. The city will also hire 150 new police officers. 

Ambrose says that he wants these new officers to lead the charge to becoming a more community-minded police force and wants them to address crime and community life issues.

“I would like officers to be guardians and warriors when they have to be,” Ambrose says.

Mayor Baraka agrees that this is important.

“We want police to believe that the community that they are policing in is their community and that the people who live here are part of that community,” he says.

The Newark Police Department operates under a federal consent decree. Baraka and Ambrose have taken steps recently to put more police officers on patrol. They have also added more staff to the emergency call center and will expand the police ShotSpotter system to all five of the city’s wards.

Statistics have shown that this has brought the crime rates down 18 percent overall. Shootings are down 16 percent compared to this time last year. Homicides are up slightly, with 26 being reported so far this year.

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