5 surprising facts about violent crime in Newark

By Steve Strunsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on June 07, 2016

NEWARK — The first report of a panel convened by Mayor Ras Baraka in October 2014 to address violence in Newark looked at crime data between 2008-2014, to get at the realities of violent criminal activity and actors, beyond the perceptions.

Baraka said the goal of the report, issued Monday by the Safer Newark Council, is to foster effective policing strategies and public policies that reflect the realities of violent crime, and are not a response to political pressure or headlines.

Rejecting a common stereotype of New Jersey's largest city, a Safer Newark panelist and report author, Prof. Todd Clear of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, said during a press conference, "Newark is not a war zone."

Some of the cumulative findings of the report, titled "A Call to Action," reflect familiar elements of sporadic news accounts of individual cases: almost all Newark murders are committed by men; 90 percent of suspects are African-American; the average age of suspects is 26; they have an average of nine prior arrests. The report found that the overwhelming majority of murder victims in Newark are also black men, particularly those recently released from prison, while nearly nine out of ten murders involve a gun, most involve gangs, and most stem from disputes over drugs.

But here are five sets of facts from the report that may come as a surprise:

1. Violence is concentrated geographically Up to 80% of Newark streets did not have a single reported violent crime in public space during any given year of the study period, from 2008-2014, and less than 10 percent of streets had two or more incidents.  

2. Newark is less violent than comparable U.S. cities  While Newark's rate of violent crime per 100,000 residents was more than twice the rate for the United States as a whole from 2008-2014, Newark's rate was well below the rate in comparable cities Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland and Detroit.  

3. Newark is on par with other New Jersey cities Newark's murder rate per 100,000 residents fell in the middle among New Jersey five biggest cities at the end of the study period, above Jersey City and Paterson, but below Camden and Trenton. However, Newark did have the highest robbery rate among the five in 2014, when robberies actually declined in the city, but not as a fast as in Camden, where the rate fell just below Newark's.

4. Gangs account for most Newark homicides During a tracking period from September 2014 through August 2015, 62 percent of Newark homicides were gang-related, even though just 4 percent of the city's population is involved in gangs.

5. Newark carjackings have plummeted Carjackings plummeted in the last year of the study, from nearly 140 in 2013, to fewer than 80 in 2014.

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