Overall crime dropped by 17 percent during the first six months of the year, though assaults and motor vehicle thefts have increased, according to township’s Uniform Crime Report.
“If you look over the past 15 years, [crime] has significantly declined,” said West Orange Police Chief James Abbott.
There were 417 total crimes reported from January to June in 2011, according to the UCR. Total crime dropped to 346 during the same period in 2012, a 17 percent decrease. However, the statistics for 2012 are still estimates because they have yet to be verified by the state.
There was a decrease in robberies from 24 during the first half of 2011 to 7 in 2012, and an increase in motor vehicle thefts from 25 in 2011 to 42 in 2012. Other statistics include:
|2011 January - June||2012 January - June|
Motor Vehicle Theft
Mayor Robert Parisi also weighed in on the declining crime numbers.
“The overall trend has been continually going down, and we are happy about that,” said Parisi.
In 1997 when Abbott was sworn in as chief, there were 1,690 total crimes reported and 1,760 the year after that. That number has continued to fall since. Police reported 783 total crimes in 2009, 668 in 2010, and 878 in 2011.
Previous crime reports can be found here. A breakdown of crime since 1997 can also be found in the photo gallery.
Abbott cautioned about the pitfalls of concentrating too much on the UCR, however. He noted that crime rates in any town can spike or decline for innumerable reasons.
He noted the recent spat of armed robberies and the homicide at Misty’s Restaurant and bar earlier this month as examples of the fluctuations that can occur.
“We’ve had some bad things lately, nobody is hiding on that,” said Abbot. “But we will deal with them. And we have made some good arrests and some real cooperative investigations with county and state and federal agencies ....”
The decline in crime comes a year after the department laid off eight officers and demoted 16 more. With four vacancies in the police department this year, there are currently 92 officers on staff.
In a recent article on Patch, Christopher Jacksic, president of the West Orange police union, PBA Local 25, said the department is struggling with the reduced numbers -- down from a high of 122 in 2006 -- and related to increases in overtime.
Parisi said in the coming week, the administration will seek approval from the council to fund new initiatives to combat crimes, including working more closely with Orange. He also hinted at a possible restructuring of the police department, which may include the hiring of additional officers.
“We plan on hiring more cops; it is all going to have to be part of a restructuring townwide because the law says we can only raise taxes two percent, and that doesn’t give us a lot of room,” said Parisi.