Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation
Newark, New Jersey
Target Area: South Ward - Population 46,171
BCJI Grantee: Newark Community Street Team
Research Partner: Sanar Institute
Focus Area: Violent Crime, Murder, Aggravated Assault
BCJI Funding Year: FY2020
The South Ward of Newark is located within the 07108 ZIP code. A 2016 needs and segment analysis commissioned by the South Ward Children’s Alliance painted a stark picture of a community with a 31 percent unemployment rate and 56 percent of the population below the federal poverty line.
For decades, Newark relied exclusively on law enforcement as the single point of contact to address community violence with dismal results that cost Newark lives and quality of life. In 2014, Mayor Baraka launched the Newark Community Street Team (NCST), a resident-run organization with a mission to reduce violence in the South and West Wards of Newark through use of a multi-pronged, relationship-based violence reduction strategy. As a result, in 2016, the city saw a double-digit decline in violence for the first time in 50 years, with 2019 displaying the largest decline yet.
In the South Ward, there has been a long-term issue of inadequate investment in infrastructure, perpetuating issues around public safety and public health. The lasting impact from the crime and violence experienced individually and collectively by the residents festers and creates ripple effects leading to both hypervigilance and vicarious trauma within the community. Without the work carried out by the NCST, there would be few systems in place to help community members embark upon and sustain their healing journeys.
The Planning Phase will focus on the following objectives:
- Further reduce aggravated assaults and robberies in the South Ward by implementing a targeted crime reduction strategy.
- Expand the number of residents participating in the Public Safety Round Table (PSRT), a forum for residents to bring their concerns and solution-focused ideas concerning safety in their neighborhood.
- Expand the community’s understanding of public safety policy and increase civic engagement through participation in the Community Sentinels Program, which provides resident participants with conflict mediation skills and trauma-informed approaches so that they act as a complement to law enforcement public safety efforts.
- Support victims by connecting them with healing services through the Victim of Crime Compensation Office, mentoring, counseling, and therapeutic service referrals.
The site will follow a three-pronged approach to reduce aggravated assaults and robberies, as well as train and create a structure for a cadre of residents to serve as public safety sentinels who can respond to quality-of-life issues amongst residents by:
- Expanding outreach to the community via PSRTs through assertive outreach to bring more residents in and deepen current participants’ roles.
- Designing an intervention strategy that addresses the victimization and the perpetrator’s role.
- Developing a strategy on how to address the underlying issues and provision of services to both victims and perpetrators.
- Building out the Community Sentinels Program, which is a targeted, community-based public safety and violence deterrence strategy dedicated to training community members in public policy and advocacy.
- Adding three additional high-risk interventionists who will focus specifically on the South Ward to provide a more expanded response via resident interactions, Newark Police Department dispatch, app notifications, and toll-free number calls. The interventionists will be on-scene at homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies, making the community safer and giving residents a greater sense of personal freedom, trust, and strengthened social ties.
Other Key Partners
Newark Police Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Newark Public Safety Collaborative, South Ward Children’s Alliance, South Ward Promise Neighborhood, Mayor’s Office of the City of Newark, Opportunity Youth Network, New Jersey State Police, Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, The HUBB, University Hospital