The Jersey Journal, newspaper of record for Jersey City, is running a series of articles about crime in the city. (available on line at NJ.com)
The series is based upon the compilation and charting, via computers, of violent crime statistics for the 19 months from January 2006 through July of this year as obtained by the Newark Star Ledger and Jersey Journal staff through Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests.
So far, there have been no great revelations in the information presented...especially to those who have been paying attention to crime discussions and statistics for awhile now.
There are very strong similarities between the description of problems (youth congregating on street corners; limited police resources; broken families; poor education systems; etc.)in Jersey City and what we hear, read and say about Trenton.
One thing that has struck this reader, so far there has been little evidence of the hyperbole so present in Trenton's "crime fighting" strategies.
For instance, in this morning's article, there is a very matter-of-fact statement by Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey regarding how his department maintains a list of the most serious repeat and violent juvenile offenders in order to help the Prosecutor's office deal with their cases.
There was no hype about this being a ground-breaking approach. We don't know from the article, but one gets the sense there was no highly-paid consultant credited with this common sense approach to law enforcement data analysis. It was held up as the next great wave in crime-fighting.
Let's hope more Trentonians read this series and can take away some good information that can be applied here.
And let's hope our Public Officials read the series and realize that reducing crime is a serious issue and not just a public relations opportunity.
Reporters, Councilpersons, or the Public shouldn't have to resort to OPRA requests for information on crime in the city.
It's time to stop playing to the cameras and the press and talk about our crime problem, real or perceived, in a very real and open way.