In interview, Baraka touts new efforts for Newark crime rate dip, but says city 'not out of the woods'

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 05, 2015

NEWARK — Mayor Ras Baraka on Sunday touted some of his recently introduced strategies to lower crime for a significant reduction in murders last year, but submitted that the city still faces a long road toward shedding its violent reputation.

In an interview with New York City public radio station WNYC, Baraka said he believed measures such as meeting with known gang members and targeting specific troubled areas of the city for both crime prevention and economic growth did have an effect in reducing homicides from 111 in 2013 to 93 last year.

The city also saw approximately 20 percent reductions in robberies and carjackings, and about a 12 percent dip in burglaries, according to police statistics.

However, he expressed belief that those numbers will remain far too high if leaders fail to adequately address the social and economic ills that creates an “incubator for crime.”

“We still are not out of the woods. And that's why I don't go around cheerleading those statistics because any time when you have anywhere between 80 to 100 African-American, Latino boys being killed in a community by homicide, then it's important for people to look at that as an epidemic,” he said.

Baraka also addressed measures the city has taken to improve relations between the police department and citizens following the U.S. Department of Justice’s findings that officers had committed widespread civil rights abuses over several years, and had largely failed to adequately respond to citizen’s complaints.

Since the findings were released in July, the department has moved its internal affairs unit out of police headquarters and into City Hall.

Last month, Baraka postponed a press conference in which he was slated to announce further reforms, including the formation of a citizen complaint review board that would examine allegations of abuse against officers.

Listen to the full interview or read the full transcript here.

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