NEWARK –The Division of Criminal Justice is awarding $5,750,000 in federal grant funds to 17 New Jersey cities that are facing high levels of violent crime so that they can purchase “force multiplying” crime-fighting technologies for their police departments.
Attorney General Paula T. Dow announced the grants on Wednesday at the Newark Police Communications Center with Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy, Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey and other prosecutors, mayors and police leaders.
Dow explained that the funds – to be distributed as grants of $500,000 for the larger cities and $250,000 for the smaller cities – may be used for various technologies, including:
- “Eye in the Sky” closed-circuit TV cameras with gunshot detection capability for targeted enforcement areas;
- Automated License Plate Readers for patrol cars, which can automatically identify vehicles connected to a crime or to a criminal offender;
- Mobile Data Terminals for patrol cars; and
- equipment needed to convert to a countywide or regional dispatch system.
Cities that are allocated funds will have the option of applying to use them to pay for personnel needed to support the use of the technology. For example, funds can be used to pay for staff to monitor closed-circuit TV cameras. The $5.75 million is a one-time source of funding distributed by the Attorney General’s Office using money provided by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
“Police officers put their lives on the line each day to protect us, and we want to give them every available tool to facilitate their courageous efforts,” said Dow. “These grants are directed to 17 cities facing high levels of violent crime so that they can purchase crime-fighting technologies that they otherwise could not afford in these difficult economic times.”
“We have seen first-hand in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office how closed-circuit video surveillance systems can help solve crimes and provide valuable evidence in prosecutions, including homicides, sexual assaults and robberies,” said Murray. “Faced with new challenges, police can use these grants to respond with the newest technology.”
“Today, policing has evolved, as has crime and the means used to fight it,” said Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy. “This generous donation will help the Newark Police Department to purchase equipment to stay ahead of criminals by keeping our police personnel at the cutting edge of technology. Officers will be armed with premium equipment as they endeavor to provide the best possible service to the community.”
“In this era of declining levels of funding and decreased staffing levels, police agencies must explore other means to augment the efficiency of our officers,” said Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey. “This funding will afford the Jersey City Police Department the opportunity to upgrade and expand our technology to better our community.”
The initiative is designed to award grants to cities experiencing significant levels of violent crime so that they can purchase, add to, or support technologies that will serve as force multipliers at a time when many of the cities have been forced to implement layoffs or curtail hiring. In other cases, the funds may be used for technologies that will assist police to achieve efficiencies through consolidation or regionalization of police forces or particular police functions.
The cities have been allocated specific amounts, but they must apply to the Division of Criminal Justice to receive the funds. Letters with grant applications and information are being mailed to the 17 cities this week.
The funds are being distributed based on population and levels of violent crime. Municipalities were broken into two tiers based on the 2009 estimated census population: those with a population of at least 75,000, and those with a population of less than 75,000.
Three separate measures were used to gauge the amount of violent activity in each municipality:
- The number of shooting incidents in 2010 that involved either a hit or a homicide.
- The number of violent index crimes in 2009 that involved a firearm.
- The number of violent index crimes in 2009 that did not involve a firearm.
These measures were used to create an overall average measure of each municipality’s percentage of the statewide total of violent activity.
Grants of $500,000 each will be made available to police departments in six cities with a population of at least 75,000. These “Tier One” cities, listed in descending order based on the amount of violence experienced, are:
- Jersey City
Grants of $250,000 each will be made available to police departments in 11 cities with a population under 75,000. These “Tier Two” cities, listed in descending order of violence, are:
- Atlantic City
- East Orange
- Asbury Park
- New Brunswick
The six cities in Tier One account for 11 percent of the state’s population, but together they are responsible for over two-thirds (67.9 percent) of the 2010 shootings, about half (51.1 percent) of the 2009 violent index crimes with a firearm, and about one-third (33.8 percent) of the 2009 violent index crimes without a firearm.
The 11 cities in Tier Two account for 5.5 percent of the state’s population, but together account for over one-fifth (21.1 percent) of the 2010 shootings, one-fifth (20.5 percent) of the 2009 violent index crimes with a firearm, and slightly less than one-fifth (19 percent) of the 2009 violent index crimes without a firearm.
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