Newark Community Street Team credits community members for reducing violence in the city

One week after the city of Newark was recognized for reducing violence, News 12 New Jersey was given exclusive access to the Newark Community Street Team.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

May 19, 2023, 2:34 AM

Updated 391 days ago

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One week after the city of Newark was recognized for reducing violence, News 12 New Jersey was given exclusive access to the Newark Community Street Team – a group working to improve the city.
The Newark Community Street Team credits the community for the drop in violence. Last year, Newark marked a 62-year low for homicides. The organization believes that was made possible by putting public safety in the public’s hands.
“I done been to over 300 funerals…I do this work because we need to grasp these kids, we need to do more in the community,” says team member Diane Jennings.
Members of the Newark Community Street Team met Thursday evening at Chadwick Avenue and West Bigelow Street in Newark’s Clinton Hill section as part of a community walk. This is where one of three walks that happened on Thursday kicked off.
The team chose to start on this block because just a few days ago a man was shot near the corner store at the intersection of West Runyon Street and Chadwick Avenue. The team says it’s about building relationships with residents, especially around a violent incident.
“Incidents happen and you think you’re out there by yourself. Our main purpose for coming in the community, going door to door, getting the attention of our residents, letting them know what we’re doing in the city of Newark, is so they know they have that extra layer of support,” says D’Renna Johnson, street team director of field operations.
The Newark Community Street Team was founded in 2015 by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. It was modeled after similar programs in other cities. It employs some 127 Newark residents. It is a requirement to live in Newark to be a part of field operations. The idea is for residents to see people they know serving as the eyes and ears of the community.
Violent crimes in Newark are down by 8%, according to Newark Public Safety. The Newark Community Street Team says it’s a combination of treating crime as a public health crisis, using data-driven policing and community-based anti-violence programs.
“The nation is shifting on what public safety is…here at NCST we have shown that this model of training nontraditional leaders to become leaders in their neighborhoods to create safety. We have seen safety increase in the city of Newark and crime decrease,” says Solomon Middleton-Williams, street team deputy director.
The Newark Community Street Team offers an array of services from free therapy to a safe passage program where the community can find them along school routes at dismissal. They say if you don’t see them in your community reach out.
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