Outside the Box Thinking Propels Orange Township’s Continued Crime Decrease

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Orange Township In Essex County, New Jersey, holds a unique position among the other municipalities in one of the state’s most diverse and populous counties.  Smack in he middle of suburban opulence, bourgeois coteries and urban grittiness,  the township not only possesses the characteristics of many of its neighbors. Orange is an amalgamation of all of the above.

Unfettered access to I-280, quick accessibility to the Garden State Parkway, the Turnpike and half a dozen other highways, makes Orange a bustling throughway as well as a dynamic port of call for tens of thousands of people every day.

With 30,000 residents squeezed into 2.2 square miles, geography isn’t the only thing that gives Orange its inimitable character.  The township’s distinctive city/suburban profile also presents some unique policing challenges.

Like other New Jersey municipalities, shrinking budgets, cuts and attrition have taken a toll on the manpower available to the Orange Police Department. Unfortunately, criminals rarely cede to municipal budgetary constraints, so innovative police departments have to find ways to compensate.

“We try to employ a holistic approach to police work,” Orange police director, Hakim Sims, explained. “In addition to combining car and foot patrols, we also strategize and work with other agencies in order to make the most efficient and effective use of our resources.”

In a recent collaborative effort with NJ Transit, Orange detectives nabbed an offender who had committed cell phone robberies near the Orange Train Station.

 At a time when neighboring towns have seen an increase in crime, particularly violent crime, Orange’s rates have dropped significantly. The decrease is due in large part to the township’s S.T.R.I.K.E (Secure, Track and Remove Inner-Orange crime Keeping Everyone safe) initiative. The cumbersome acronym notwithstanding, it has proven to be a very effective program.

More frequent patrols combined with more effective inter-agency collaboration and increased cameras have been the crux of S.T.R.I.K.E.’s success.

The Orange anti-crime strategy also included altering the logistical landscape of the township. By converting certain streets in high crime areas to one-way thoroughfares, the police can better monitor, control and safeguard those problem areas.

“Like departments all over the country, we have to be innovative and creative in how we fight crime,” Sims said. “But at the end of the day, the thing we ultimately hang our hats on is the courage and tenacity within this police department.”

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