Obama recognizes Newark for crime reduction, but some say there’s more work to do

The crime statistics in Newark are down. Last year marked a 60-year low for homicides in the city. But those who say they're on the front ines of ensuring the safety of Newark are calling on other residents to join them in preventing more crimes

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

May 13, 2023, 2:24 AM

Updated 396 days ago

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Former President Barack Obama is using words and money to praise Newark’s efforts to reduce violence. But the recognition comes just days after an 8-year-old boy was killed in a shooting.
The crime statistics in Newark are down. Last year marked a 60-year low for homicides in the city. But those who say they're on the front lines of ensuring the safety of Newark are calling on other residents to join them in preventing more crimes they say are committed by people who likely know each other
Obama said that Newark was a “model city” for successfully reducing violence. The city also got an $800,000 grant to help with the efforts.
The honor was bestowed through the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a 2014 initiative by the former president. But just several days ago, three people were shot inside a home in Newark, likely by someone who knew them.
“This appears to be an isolated incident. It was not a targeted incident. The victims and the perpetrator know each other,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
According to newarkpublicsafety.org, violent crimes are now down 8% from this time last year. Officials credit that to a combination of treating crime as a public health crisis, data-driven policing and community-based anti-violence programs like the Newark Community Street Team – who train members in the community in violence prevention.
“This model of training nontraditional leaders to become leaders of their neighborhoods to create safety, we have seen safety increase in the city of Newark, and we have seen crime decrease,” says Solomon Middletown-Williams, of the Newark Community Street Team.
The recognition from Obama was met with mixed feelings from residents who took to social media to air out their feelings.
"Newarkers are jobless, homeless, and struggling… You name it, we got it. Failed leadership, no other way to describe them,” one commenter wrote.
Another comment reads, "Does he have Newark confused with someplace else? When has the crime gone down? Did I miss something?”
Another commenter praised Baraka’s work, writing, "Compared to other cities in the U.S. with these same problems, I believe the mayor is on point and his intentions are good with a commonsense approach.”
The mayor says that the city is doing its best.
“It doesn't mean we're perfect in these areas. It means that we have made incredible strides…We have a lot of work to do in these areas, but it feels great to be recognized for the work that you're doing,” he says.
Safety from violence is one of six “milestones” cities that are recognized must meet. The other five involve education. Yonkers was also recognized this year.


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