Trenton police have clamped down on the release of information to the public, producing an incomplete picture of public safety in New Jersey’s capital, reports the city’s Times. In a one-month period since Police Director Joseph Santiago disbanded the public information unit and instituted a new policy, the city of Trenton had 50 robberies, 29 aggravated assaults, eight sexual assaults and one homicide, according to records obtained under the state’s Open Public Records Act. Because of the city’s policy shift, just seven of the crimes, including the homicide, were reported in The Times.
The changes, started on Sept. 18, drew a sharp rebuke from Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. and protests from the Times. “There is no reason in my mind for purposely withholding information that is required to be provided to the media,” Bocchini wrote to Santiago. Police now release a log of people arrested, with no explanation of their alleged crime. Any crime that does not result in an arrest is not logged at all. In a recent discussion about the new policy, Santiago said, “Public information wasn’t working for me.”