Newark police director says nation's third-highest murder rate poised to fall in 2014

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on November 18, 2014

Newark Police Director Eugene Venable, pictured at right, says a number of new initiatives by the police department are driving murder and other crime rates down. Newark had the nation's third-highest murder rate among large cities in 2013, according to FBI statistics.

 

NEWARK — Police Director Eugene Venable said he believes several of the newly introduced crime-fighting initiatives should help the city down the ranks of a dubious list of cities with the highest murder rates.

Newark's rate of 40 murders per 100,000 residents put it behind only Detroit and New Orleans during 2013 among U.S cities with a population of at least 100,000, according to the FBI’s recently released Uniform Crime Report.

The report counted 112 homicides in the city last year, its highest figure since 1990.

Venable, who took over as police director after Mayor Ras Baraka took office in July, said a number of strategic changes, including increasing the number of officers on the street and creating special task forces aimed at certain types of violent crime, had already begun to drive rates down.

As of earlier this month, the city’s murder count stood at 79 — down nearly 20 percent compared to the same time last year &mdash. Other crimes such as robbery, burglary and auto theft have also seen significant declines.

“To date, our crime stats are down in almost every UCR category,” Venable said in a statement.

He also noted that carjacking, which is not included in the annual FBI report, is down 49 percent in 2014, and that multiple anti-gun units have seized a total of 725 guns off the street.

Representatives for Baraka have not returned requests for comment on the recently released statistics.

On Monday, Municipal Council President Mildred Crump said she harbored slight doubts about the veracity of the FBI’s data, but Venable said he had no such reservations.

“We are not challenging the FBI’s annual uniform crime reports, the numbers are what they are for 2013,” he said.

“However, for 2014 we have put into place several programs to abate those crime issues that should continue the decreased numbers relevant to overall crime here in the city of Newark.”

Venable also stressed that the national rankings did not include smaller communities with high murder rates, such as Camden or Flint, Mich., that might have otherwise pushed Newark further down the list.

The FBI also discourages ranking communities, regions or other areas based on UCR statistics, saying it ignores fundamental differences such as population density or economic challenges, and may create "misleading perceptions which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents."

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