NEWARK – As officials from the city of Newark outlined an action plan to fight violent crime following a rough Thanksgiving weekend, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka reinforced his alliance with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres as part of Newark’s crime fighting strategy.
“We are going to respond like it’s a state of emergency in this city, immediately,” said Baraka on Monday after a Thanksgiving weekend in Newark that saw 11 shootings and three murders. “The people in the community are going to see and feel the impact immediately.”
Newark Police Director Eugene Venable announced the opening of a new police precinct, known as the First Precinct, meant to help alleviate crime in Newark, particularly in the city’s Central Ward. Among the anti-crime initiatives Venable noted was the introduction of a “real-time” crime center to enhance the gathering of intelligence to help police do their job. This center combines the efforts of various local law enforcement agencies, including the police departments of Jersey City and Paterson.
Baraka pointed to the real-time crime center as part of an ongoing joint effort by the mayors of New Jersey’s three largest cities to address problems together, including public safety issues.
“It’s going to help us get information that would normally take us weeks to get to help us respond to the violence immediately, as opposed to waiting, then information fizzles out,” Baraka told PolitickerNJ.com.
Baraka also noted Newark, Jersey City and Paterson are going out to bid together to ensure that all three municipal police forces will have the use of body cameras available in 2015.
At a time when all New Jersey municipalities are struggling to get state funding for public safety and other programs, Newark is at a crossroads regarding the shape of its state Legislature delegation in Trenton.
Sources have told PolitickerNJ that increased fundraising efforts by Baraka and his allies indicate that a primary fight might be looming in Legislative District 29 against Democratic Assemblywomen L. Grace Spencer and Eliana Pintor Marin. The LD 29 assemblywomen would reportedly be challenged by Alturrick Kenney and Patrick Council, sources stated.
A looming LD 29 fight would highlight the struggle for Essex County dominance between Democrats Baraka and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
DiVincenzo backs the reelection of Spencer and Pinto Marin, and sources have told PolitickerNJ that Essex County Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy Jones is inclined to stick with the LD 29 incumbents because Baraka already has steady allies in the other state legislative district that includes parts of Newark, Legislative District 28.
The LD 28 Assembly duo, Democrats Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker, backed Baraka early in the 2014 Newark mayoral race, suggesting that the LD 28 front could be quiet in the 2015 election, when the entire state Assembly is up for grabs. Caputo and Tucker reportedly remain acceptable to Jones.
“I do think we have legislators that are concerned about what’s happening in our city at the state level. I don’t think that we have a shortage of folks that will respond to the kind of violence we’re experiencing here in this city. Our Essex County delegation will be just as concerned with what’s happening here in the city as I am,” said Baraka when asked by PolitickerNJ if he needed more allies in Trenton. “I think we have allies down there.”