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Crime Rates Drop 17% During First Half of 2012

There were 346 reports of crime in West Orange from January to June in 2012, compared to 417 crimes reported in 2011 during the same time.

 

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: 

 

 

Offences 

 

2011 January - June 2012 January - June   Homicide 1 0 Arson 3 0 Rape 2 0 Robbery 24 7 Aggravated Assault 18 21 Burglary 94 69 Larceny 240 207

Motor Vehicle Theft

 

35 42 Total 417 346

 

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 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 . 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 -- 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. 

Dan August 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Okay, where are the people that are going to say that these numbers are false and the administration is hiding something? Where are you hiding?
Tom G. August 24, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Comparing 6-month periods is kind of meaningless as the time period is simply too short to get a good sample of data. You really need to compare entire years to be able to mark any trends (either good or bad). For example, looking at those numbers would indicate a decrease in homicides, when in fact, there was a homicide this year after the July period which would simply balance out the numbers at the end of the year. Let's wait until the end of 2012 and then determine how much crime has dropped.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Tom G.: While I agree that such data need to be reviewed over time to get the truest picture of a given situation, these numbers were released to combat the perception there has been some dramatic rise in crime. There hasn't been and, as indicated, the crime rate has decreased consistently over the last dozen years. What has increased is the speed and immediacy of the reporting and dissemination of what crimes do occur, due to the proliferation of on-line media outlets like The Patch and The Alternative Press. Fifteen years ago, the only local crime reports anyone regulalry saw was "The Police Blotter" in "The West Orange Chronicle" and those paragraph or less summaries of the incidents were only published weekly.
Mark Paulson August 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM
If anyone wants to take credit for lower crime rates, they need to provide reasons for these improvements. As far as I'm concerned, the criminals were just lazy during the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, maybe they will be more rested. it doesn't make sense to believe that budget cuts would make the town safer. If that's the case, than get rid of the police department all together. Increasing the staff might even make the town less safe. If this report was presented in a science class to prove a hypothesis, the teacher would give this writer an F. There are no reasons to indicate why the crime rate went down. The conclusions that could be assumed for lower crime are limitless. When the writer tosses out figures like this, without indicating the reason for the change, the report is worthless. Either explain why the numbers were lower or don't bother writing the report at all. It only opens up the door for people to make all kinds of comments that may or may not be true. God knows we have way too much of that already. A reduction of staff = lower crime. So why did crime go down? I don't know. But then, I'm not the one who wrote this incomplete and useless report.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Mark Paulson: I don't perceive anyone taking credit for anything and I certainly don't think anyone can possibly conclude that less police equals less crime. I do believe the overall tone and tenor of the article is correct, that the crime rate has consistently decreased over the last dozen years or so, because the data available does substantiate that. The reasons? They're manifold...but, improved technology surely leads the way...both what is employed by police and the public alike. I think the predominant reason we have significantly less car thefts (over 500/year at one point) is the fact that manufacturers have made them more difficult to steal. As to reductions in other crime? The proliferation of cell phones (and every one of them has a still/video camera) surely gives criminals some pause and leads to quick reporting if they decide to act anyway.
Local Mom August 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
The second half of the year will clearly make up for it giving the murder and recent home invasion and rash of armed robberies - tell the guys who work at the Prospect Exxon Station that crime is down!!!
Steven Serebrenik August 24, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Good news based on this report. Thanks to our law enforcement and our mayor and our council.
Mark Paulson August 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Gary, you should have written this article. However, concluding that less police = less crime is the only thing one can assume after reading this article. What else could it be????? I'm kidding of course, but no explanation was ever offered. I'm just looking for an explanation for the drop in crime when crime seems to be escalating. The article indicated that there was a reduction in staff and still crime went down 17%. That doesn't make sense. You know as well as I know that people in this town are going to disagree with these numbers. Based on the equation (reduced staff = less crime), I don't blame them. You gave some valid reasons why crime can be lower with a reduced staff. However, the report also comes out specifically at this time to buffer some resident's opinions that we live in a ghetto. You always give complete explanations whenever you address various issues. This reporter did not do that. The report was not complete. You have added helpful information that should have been in the original report. But that's why I always enjoy getting your followups. Keep up the good work.
Mark Paulson August 24, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Gary, if what you say is true about improved technology, than perhaps we should make sure everyone in town has a cell phone and training in reporting crimes. It costs about $1,000,000 to have 7 police officers in West Orange according to the business people in town when all costs are considered.. If the town spent $1,000,000 to provide better technology to the residents , maybe we wouldn't need as many officers. Every person on the street would be a buffer against crime. Maybe we need to reconsider how we fight crime in today's world. In colonial days, everyone carried a gun for protection. Today, maybe we need to make sure that every resident carries a cell phone and has access to help in time of need. Times are different, If technology reduces crime, than the town needs to invest in that rather than things they used 10 or 15 years ago. It may be time to reassess how we fight crime in today's world if what you say is really true.
DB August 24, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Mark, you are absolutely right. More cameras installed in town will reduce crime. The argument I got from people connected to the police department was that "cameras don't arrest people", which is true, but also is true that policemen don't arrest people if they don't know who to arrest.The fact that the number of crimes is down doesn't mean anything. What matter is how many of these crimes were solved, ending in an arrest.
DB August 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Those surveillance videos are coming from cheap, $ 300, 4 cameras with recorder included. I'm talking about systems which are design for police use. The technology is available right now.
Mark Paulson August 24, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It might be necessary to mandate that all businesses have surveillance cameras and crime prevention technology in order to operate a business in town. Expecting the town to solve crimes without this information can be very expensive for the town. I would hate for the world to become like Orwell's 1984 but technology can help to make the world safer. However, even home alarms can not prevent all crimes. By the time help could arrive from a home alarm detector, thefts or personal harm can still occur and the criminals can escape. However, DNA and other technology does make a difference today . What I like about your input Gary is that the number of police officers today is not necessarily the most significant factor in crime prevention. We could have a dozen more Barney Fifes and it wouldn't reduce crime one bit. The town may need to redistribute staff money to pay for new technology. If this happens, we can't be upset if the head count goes down. I think that we might not be focusing on the right thing when we are just counting heads at the municipal building. We may need to ask what new gizzmos and gadgets have we purchases lately. Gizzmos and gadgets also don't get lifetime pensions and health insurance so that needs to be considered when we decide where to spend our precious tax dollars. The crime today at the Empire State building will solved by police officers and hundreds of people with cell phones. Focusing on technology may be where we need to go in the future.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Mark Paulson: The sciences of policing and criminal justice are ever evolving, just like everything else. We can take some comfort in knowing that our police department is more highly educated than it has ever been, with people holding MBAs and even an attorney among its officers. Are they able to do more with less and are they taking advantage of new technologies? Yes...and they will continue to do so. On thing that does puzzle me and that is readily apparent in what is released by police departments and seen on TV shows like "COPS" and that is the poor quality of surveillance videos that could/should reduce crime and lead to arrests. Again, with everyone having a cell phone with a camera, and given the high quality images they produce, the stationary cameras still out there really seem to suck! :-) Merchants need to upgrade their equipment to get clear images!
Michelle Cadeau August 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Wait for it! Wait for it! Wait for it! ;-)
Mark Paulson August 24, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Excellent point Gary
Tom G. August 24, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I have read in the past that East Orange has been using cameras to target crime and it has drastically reduced the crime rate over the last decade in that city. Perhaps, if they haven't already, the WOPD could use similar technology. While it's true that the cameras themselves cannot arrest people, I would have to assume the criminals would think twice before committing a crime if they know they may be under surveilance. And any video of the crime could provide enough evidence to eventually lead to an arrest.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Mark Paulson: I have the greatest respect for law enforcement and count any number of past and present police officers among my friends but, it is a profession that is agenda driven (like every other) and its needs must be balanced and considered with the public's at large. More is not necessarily better; neither is it even practical nor even affordable. Police forces are para-military organizations and while not having the same mission or requirements of the nation's armed forces, there surely are parallels. During World War II, we had 16,000,000 men and women in uniform to prosecute the war of the time. Today, our armed forces (including reservists and National Guard) total no more than 2,500,000. Why? Technology. Where we had to send 1,000 planes to bomb a Rumanian oil refinery in 1944 (with only 10% of the ordnance dropped hitting anything of importance), today we can accomplish that mission with complete accuracy using a single aircaft with a smart bomb or by launching a cruise missile. The armed forces are developing technologies to keep people out of harm's way and disengaged whenever possible. The men and women we do commit are far smaller in number, more skilled and far better trained than ever before. Law enforcement really has little choice than to develope the same mindset, as that is undoubtedly the future.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Tom G: Cameras (even faux cameras) can serve as a deterrent to crime and I had some personal experience with this (30 years ago) when I was the City Manager for Budget Rent A Car in New York. Long story short is that we had a vandalism and theft problem at remote vehicle storage lots in proximity to both our Kennedy and LaGuardia rental facilities. Full time security would be expensive and cameras seemed to be an ecomical solution but, actually hard wiring them to an even already manned monitoring facility was prohibitive. What we did was to install self-contained, battery operated, faux surveillance cameras and signage announcing the lots were "under video surveillance." The cameras were actually dummies that appeared to cover the entire area, with a blinking red light mounted on them that suggested they were live. Essentially, they were nothing more than an empty metal box with a lens afixed to it but, our vandalism and theft problem ended.
wohopeful August 24, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Notice the timing of rollign out these statistics. Clearly based on all of the crime that has been reported in the media we know that crime is on the rise in West Orange and is going unabated, the Mayor fires policemen, plans further reductions in the police force and has not been proactive when it comes to the safety and welfare of the honest hard working residents. Senior Citizens are attacked in front of their homes, people are being killed and robbed and the Mayor rolls out some manipulated statsistics trying to show that crime is down. Crime is rising in WO and our Mayor's answer is to decimate the police department. It is not right.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 07:38 PM
^ As usual, the above is just a little more of wohopeful's cowardly, anonymous Internet nonsense.
wohopeful August 24, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Mayor Parisi's recent fugazi claims that crime is down is clealry not right and not good for our town and the hard working residents who are the victims of the rising crime each and every day.
Gary Englert August 24, 2012 at 07:50 PM
^ And still more of wohopeful's cowardly, anonymous Internet nonsense. The Township's Uniform Crime Reports from 1995 through 2010 can be viewed at this link: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr The reports for 2011 will be posted shortly and will consist of the data released by Mayor Parisi. Any objective review will lead to the same conclusion: crime has been decreasing in West Orange for at least the last dozen years. It is also worth noting that falsifying this information is illegal and if wohopeful, or anyone else, has actionable evidence that this is the case, he/she should bring the matter to the attention of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and/or the US Attorney for New Jersey.
wohopeful August 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Statistics in America show more people get killed in automobile accidents than attacks by hungry lions. That doesn't mean it is safe to get in a cage with a hungry lion. These fugazi statistics that Mayor Parisi roles out are simply not believable given the fact that there are recent murders, home invasions, armed robberies, attacks, car thefts, etc. happening all over West Orange. It is time to wake up Mayor and do something about the real crime problem and stop hiding behind the manipulated statistics.
Michelle Cadeau August 24, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Therese it is!!!
Michelle Cadeau August 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
There it is!!
Michelle Cadeau August 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Did you see it?
Gary Englert August 25, 2012 at 12:38 AM
^ And here is just a little bit more of wohopeful's repetitive, cowardly, anonymous Internet nonsense...and I'll buy a porterhouse if someone can get this nitwit to bring it into the nearest occupied lion's cage.
Ken August 25, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Pretty doubtful. I recall a good number of robberies in the Gregory and Montrose areas that finally ended when SOPD caught the guy, whose name escapes me, who was a habitual burglar. If all his crimes didn't cause it to go up in the first half of the year, I doubt the current rash will, either.
Ken August 25, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I again reiterate my offer to chip in for the moving truck. Whenever you're ready to go, I'm in. I'll even throw in a couple empty boxes and some packing tape.
Ken August 25, 2012 at 01:17 PM
There have been countless mentions over the past year of how the reduced number of WOPD officers hasn't led to a reduced number of officers on the street at any given time. The articles here about overtime, the comments of the union head, and even listening to the scanner for any length of time all seem to indicate this is true. Having more officers would be wonderful, though we all know the exact same people who continually harp on how unsafe they think we are would all have complete meltdowns if they were asked to pay a few dollars more a year in municipal tax to hire some new officers. But in a town as spread out as WO, even if you had 2 or even 4 more guys on a shift, it's pretty difficult to prevent things like burglaries from occurring in the first place. We're an urban-rim town; we have easy access to a fast interstate highway; we have lots of little windy suburban streets filled with homes where no one is home all day to keep an eye on the neighborhood -- there's only so much you can do.

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