Municipalities unite to form new Border Patrol Program

East Orange Mayor Ted Green, pictured, hosted a joint press conference with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to announce the formation of a new Border Patrol Program.

EAST ORANGE, NJ —East Orange Mayor Ted Green and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka held a joint press conference in East Orange Police Division Headquarters on South Munn Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to announce the formation of a new Border Patrol Program, composed of officers from both municipalities’ police forces, to patrol the shared borders that run from Ampere Parkway and Park Avenue in the 5th Ward to South Orange Avenue in the 3rd Ward, and the area in between.

According to Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss and Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers, Irvington has been collaborating with Baraka and the Newark Police Division to patrol the border they share for years. Vauss said he’s happy to see his fellow mayors joining forces to fight crime and improve public safety, as it will benefit every municipality, including Irvington. He said Green is right that “crime and criminals have no borders,” so law enforcement can’t have any either.

“Absolutely, we agree,” said Vauss on Sunday, Nov. 25. “We’ve had joint border patrols with Newark for the last three years. Since Newark borders both our communities, it’s important that we all work in conjunction with one another to curb crime.”

“We have had a border patrol with Newark for about three years. It has been a success,” agreed Bowers on Sunday, Nov. 25. “It has been a good thing for us to partner with Newark on the borders to fight crime. The officers have worked well together and have shared resources.”

In fact, Bowers said the Irvington Police Department’s partnership with the Newark Police Division has been so successful that he and Vauss want to build on the strategy and expand it to include other neighboring police departments and law enforcement agencies. The township is still working with state police in a partnership that began during former Mayor Wayne Smith’s administration; the Vauss administration also began partnering with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Newark District Office in 2014, after he was first elected mayor and promised to make Irvington clean and safe.

“We also will be looking to partner with other agencies that share contiguous borders,” said Bowers. “It’s really a win-win, in terms of resources and fighting crime. We all generally have the same issues, so why not partner up to address them?”

“We don’t border any part of East Orange. We only border Maplewood, Newark, Hillside and Union. And yeah, we border Newark at the end of Stuyvesant Avenue and Sanford Avenue,” said Bowers. “We work well together. And they have shared resources with us at times, but not on a permanent basis like Newark. But it is something that we are exploring. We welcome the working relations. Our destiny is tied to each other’s.”

Green said the same thing about East Orange and Newark. He worked as the Irvington Building Department director in Vauss’ administration prior to being elected as East Orange mayor in 2017, and he is also close with Baraka.

In addition to Green, East Orange was represented at the press conference announcing the new border patrol initiative by Public Safety Department liaison Jose Cordero, East Orange Police Division Chief Phyllis Bindi and 5th Ward Councilman Mustafa Brent, who serves as the vice chairman of East Orange City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

In addition to Baraka, representing Newark at the press conference were his Public Safety director, Anthony F. Ambrose, and police Chief Darnell Henry.

The new Border Patrol Program is aimed at addressing mutual law enforcement concerns along the Newark and East Orange border, according to officials.

In fact, Green and Baraka closed out the press conference by signing memorandums of understanding for their respective municipalities that cleared the way for the new Border Patrol Program to start operations. They said the new agreement between East Orange and Newark allows for the engagement of joint initiatives to combat interjurisdictional crime and provides for an improved quality of life for residents of both cities.

“Over the past several months, East Orange police have been engaging in high-visibility crime prevention operations throughout the city, to continue to reduce crime,” said Green, who promised to make public safety the top priority in his new administration, on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “Joining forces with the city of Newark sends a clear message to both of our communities that we are committed to making East Orange and Newark safer for everyone. This press conference today sends a strong message, because we know that criminals don’t have a boundary and our message to them is that, as of today, with our new partnership with Newark, the good guys don’t have a boundary either.”

“I’m pleased that the city of Newark and East Orange have established this agreement, to reduce crime along the border of our two cities,” said Baraka on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “This partnership will strengthen our mutual agreement, to ensure that our residents and neighbors are safe. I just want to thank Mayor Green, first of all, for understanding that we need to work together, the city of East Orange and the city of Newark. It’s our sister city and … you could literally cross the street and be in the city of East Orange and vice versa cross the street and be in the city of Newark in multiple locations.”

Baraka agreed with Green that the new Border Patrol Program is part of his administration’s ongoing efforts to reduce crime and increase public safety in New Jersey’s largest city.

“Thankfully, the city of Newark just opened up two additional precincts, the 6th and the 7th precincts in our city, that services different parts of our community.” said Baraka. “One in the upper Vailsburg or Ivy Hill section of the city of Newark; the other, the 7th Precinct, the West Ward and Northward borderline … and both of those precincts border East Orange. So we’ll be working closely with East Orange, both of our police departments, to kind of maintain the public safety and quality of life of those residents that live in and around that area.”

“No longer will … people who feel like they can break the law … have the ability to move from city to city without being detected, without being apprehended,” said Baraka. “We will use our resources and our services that we have combined to be able to bring these people to justice and create opportunity and great neighborhoods for people who live up and down those corridors that border East Orange and the city of Newark.”

Former East Orange Councilman Jimmy Small resides in one of those corridors in the city’s 3rd Ward that Baraka referred to and, as president of the Terrace Block Association, which includes several streets in East Orange that border the Vailsburg section of Newark along South Orange Avenue, he said he’s glad to hear about the new joint policing initiative.

“I was elated when I saw it on Facebook yesterday. The first time I heard about it was on Facebook and social media,” said Small on Wednesday, Nov. 21. “My only concern is that it’s got to be maintained. As a former councilman, I understand how budgets work and I know from experience that the money for these kinds of programs can run out.”

Small said he is glad to see Newark and East Orange working together to solve their shared public safety concerns, despite the fiscal challenge. He said the new Border Patrol Program will make all Terrace Block Association members happy.

“I’m elated that this is happening, because there are some crimes in the Terrace area that residents tell me … emanated in Newark,” Small said. “The people in this neighborhood, East Orange and Newark residents, will support the police. There’s an organization called ‘The Heart of Vailsburg’ and I know that they will be happy about this. Since this is a two-pronged effort, I’m sure this will be welcomed by both cities.”

The officials at the meeting said the new Border Patrol Program is a direct response to concerns about public safety and crime that citizens such as Small have expressed, adding that they need the public’s help to make the new program a success.

According to the new agreement, one Newark police officer and one East Orange police officer will be assigned to the Border Patrol Program seven days a week, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Commanders of Newark’s 6th and 7th precincts will coordinate with the East Orange Enhanced Community Safety Team to address crime trends along the border.

“I am grateful to Mayor Baraka and Mayor Green for their support of this mutual law enforcement agreement between our two cities,” said Ambrose on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “We will be vigilant in our work, to enhance the quality of life for the people we serve along our border. We share information 24-7, but it’s important, as Mayor Green said. The vision they have to have a Border Patrol (Program) is important, because crime has no boundaries. We’ve had some significant success in the city of Newark in the last year with crime reduction, and it’s about partnerships. We can’t do it alone. Our federal partnerships, our state partnerships, our county partnerships and today a contiguous city next to us partnership. All of these all work and the citizens are the benefactors of this.”

Ambrose said he’s looking forward to working with Cordero and Bindi to continue to build on and add to the new task force. Cordero said the new Border Patrol Program is also designed to increase law enforcement’s profile and visibility along the shared Newark and East Orange border.

“I, too, like to thank Newark for joining together with us on this important mission. We know that, by acting together on an inter-jurisdictional basis, East Orange and Newark police departments are sending a clear message that we have the means to identify and to stop criminals from coming across our borders to commit violent crime,” said Cordero on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“This Border Patrol initiative is an important part of a heightened effort by the city of East Orange, not only to reduce crime, but to help residents feel safe. Under Mayor Ted Green’s administration and leadership and, with the support of the City Council, the East Orange Police Department has launched a series of crime prevention initiatives in the last few months. So far, we’ve conducted about 1,427 surveys and we’ve identified essentially what our marching orders should be. As the mayor made clear early on, reducing crime is important, but if people don’t feel safe, it doesn’t really matter.”