Newark one of 5 U.S. cities named to federal 'violence reduction' cohort

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for
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on September 28, 2015

NEWARK — The state's largest city has been chosen as one of five across the country that will be added to the Department of Justice's "Violence Reduction Network," a year-old program that brought a federal spotlight to crime-reduction efforts in Camden last year.

"The selection of Newark as a VRN city will enable us to build on the success we've already achieved in Camden over the past year," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a release Monday afternoon.

"This program ensures that federal resources are carefully targeted to the areas where they will provide the greatest benefit."

According to the release, Newark was selected – along with Little Rock and West Memphis, Ark., Compton, Calif., and Flint, Mich. – to be a part of the program's second cohort this year. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates made the announcement Monday at the second annual VRN Summit in Detroit, Mich., Hoffman said in the release.

City officials acknowledged but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement.

The VRN connects cities with federal crime fighting agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. During the announcement, Yates gave examples of initiatives instituted at first year sites, the release said.

Camden was one of six cities chosen for the VRN's inaugural class last year, officials said. In that city, they said, VRN projects included displaying wanted felons' information on digital billboards, helping local police obtain National Integrated Ballistic Information Network equipment and training, and initiating eTrace, an online firearms tracing and analysis tracking process.

The announcement is one of many local, state, and federal interventions targeted at safety initiatives in the city. Officials are also in the midst of choosing a federal monitor to oversee operations of the Newark Police Department – the result of a scathing DOJ investigation into police practices.

However, despite recent spikes in homicides in the city, federal data released Monday showed an overall reduction in violent crime in Newark in 2014.

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