Crime in Newark, N.J., has declined this year to its lowest level since 1967, reports NJ.com. Through Christmas, overall crime in the city was down 13 percent from last year, according to police. Burglary was down 23 percent and vehicle theft 16 percent. Among violent crimes, robbery was down 23 percent, murder 10 percent (to 93) and rape 2 percent. Among standard crime categories, only aggravated assault increased, by 10 percent. The declines occurred amid highly publicized surging violent crime in some American cities, including Chicago. Three years ago, Newark had the third highest murder rate in the nation, according to FBI statistics.
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose and Mayor Ras Baraka credited the crime declines to changes in the police department over the past year. Among other department initiatives, the officials pointed to the department’s shooting response team, which they said responds to calls of “shots fired” as if they’re known to be homicides. The officials said assistance from the New Jersey State Police, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the county Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s Office was also a major factor. Ambrose took the job last January as part of a restructuring of the department that has included more officers, increased street patrols and partnerships with citizen groups and clergy to promote community policing.