The North Bergen Police Department submitted a report to the commissioners last week that included some highlights and lowlights.
Highlights include a 9-1-1 response time faster than the national average, an average crime index lower than state and county averages, and an overall reduction in eight violent “index” crimes. The number of aggravated assaults dropped from 74 in 2015 to 55 in 2016. Burglaries also dropped from 106 in 2015 to 82 in 2016. Larcenies decreased from 485 in 2015 to 445 in 2016.
“We’ve come a long way.” – Robert Dowd
____________There are still some numbers that are problematic. Robberies increased from 24 in 2015 to 35 in 2016. Automobile theft also rose, from 70 in 2015 to 78 last year. There was one reported murder each year. Rapes and sexual assaults remained steady at 17 both years.
“We’ve come a long way,” Police Chief Robert Dowd told the township Board of Commissioners. The board adopted a resolution accepting the findings at its April 26 meeting.
Index crimes are the violent crimes the FBI combines to produce its annual crime index. These offenses include homicide, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny over $50, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
Some of the report’s details included an average 9-1-1 response time of 4:21 minutes, beating the national average of 9 minutes; an average index crime rate lower than the 2016 New Jersey and Hudson County averages for such crimes; and a reduction to 700 index crimes last year, which appears to be a slight decrease from 2015, according to a graph in the report.
948 arrests in a year
The department also earned accreditation status in October, which means it has adopted and maintained performance standards based on best practices.
Last July, the White House invited Dowd to meet with 30 other police executives nationwide, as part of former President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Obama launched that task force to identify best practices for national police reform. Dowd found that the department already employed many of the best practices the president’s task force highlighted.
As a result, Dowd dedicated the report to the town’s compliance with the task force. A month later, the department also announced its participation in the White House’s Police Data Initiative (PDI). The PDI works to increase transparency, build community trust, and improve police accountability through data usage.
North Bergen’s police department is one of only 129 nationwide that have partnered with PDI. Currently, the department regularly posts on its website various data on police-citizen encounters, including traffic stops, summonses, and arrests.
The report found that, last year, the department received 112,483 service calls, held 10,785 motor vehicle stops, led 2,273 police investigations, and made 948 arrests.
“Our detectives do not stop,” Dowd said. “We had a gas station robbery last night. They’re looking at videos now – they’re all in. That’s just the way we are. We take a lot of pride in solving cases.”
The report also found higher than national average clearance rates for murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and larceny cases. Clearance rates are the percentages of offenses “cleared”—making an arrest or ID’ing a suspect.
Dowd also singled out Officer Jason Castillo, who earned Officer of The Year for 2016. “He’s extremely aggressive,” Dowd said. “He’s bright, he’s articulate. Most of his commanders are extremely impressed with his ability to perform at a high level.”
Racial diversity was another benchmark for the department. North Bergen township is 68 percent Latino, and the police department is 56 percent Latino. After a recent audit and review, the National Coalition of Latino Officers and the Hispanic American Law Enforcement Association called the North Bergen Police Department, “a model for the state,” according to Dowd.
The commissioners adopted an ordinance officially establishing special law enforcement officer positions in the township. They also adopted one establishing handicapped parking spaces for Kathleen A. Carick at 9056 Palisade Plaza and Juanita Marcano at 7427 Durham Ave.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco led the meeting in a moment of silence for Daniel Gualtieri. Gualtieri was a former math teacher for North Bergen High School for 40 years. He passed away on April 24, according to Sacco. His funeral was set for April 27.
Read more: Hudson Reporter – Some crime numbers down North Bergen commissioners get report