Quality of Life Taskforce addresses concerns along Newark border

Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, a township employee and one of the mayor’s constituents who received a free turkey stand with Mayor Tony Vauss on Tuesday, Nov. 20, during the mayor’s annual turkey giveaway outside the Municipal Building. Green recently worked with East Orange and Newark police to improve the quality of life on their shared border.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green and his Clean Community Quality of Life Taskforce, composed of the Police, Code Enforcement and Public Works departments, hit the city streets at the corner of South Munn and Tremont avenues on Friday, Jan. 11, to square off against scofflaws, absentee landlords, negligent property owners and anyone caught negatively impacting the quality of life in the area that borders Newark.

Green and the others were shadowed by their Newark counterparts engaged in the same kind of quality-of-life crackdown on their shared border.

“This is a Quality of Life Taskforce,” said Green on Friday, Jan. 11. “We’re going from ‘Mayor on the Block’ to our ‘Police on the Block’ initiative. It’s part of our border patrol program, so we have East Orange and Newark working together and this is the Quality of Life Taskforce today here in the city of East Orange and Newark.”

Green said he had everybody from the city of East Orange out.

“We had everybody — code enforcement, law enforcement, the Health Department — out here. We have our property maintenance folks out here, we have DPW out here,” said Green. “Everybody’s out here, joining hands and locking arms together, to make sure that we create a better life for citizens of Newark and the city of East Orange on the border. We’re going to be out here today, going into the vacant and abandoned properties with the Police Department, checking to see if folks are in there. If folks are in there, we might have to take some of these people into our warm shelter, so there’s going to be a lot of things happening, in terms of quality of life, today.”

East Orange police Chief Phyllis Bindi agreed with Green, saying the Quality of Life Task Force is a true collaboration between East Orange and Newark and a continuation of the interdepartmental cooperation that officially began on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“This is part of it. This is just a larger format, a larger scale, if you will, and again this is in response to the mayor’s initiative Community Wellness surveys that we have put out,” said Bindi on Friday, Jan. 11. “So we are answering the community’s top three problems and we are out here addressing that and in collaboration with the Newark Police Department.”

Bindi also said she believes in the tactic of focusing on small, quality-of-life crimes and issues, in order to prevent big crimes from happening, which the New York City Police Department popularized during former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration in the 1980s and 1990s.

East Orange Public Safety liaison Jose Cordero is credited for leading the policing reforms and technological innovations that helped East Orange achieve historic and internationally acclaimed reductions in crime and violence when he served as East Orange police director during the tenure of former Mayor Robert Bowser. Cordero came to East Orange from New York City Police Department and brought the strategies of that department with him to address quality-of-life issues in East Orange.

“Yes, that is correct,” said Bindi. “That’s quality of life and that is what we’re doing out here. If we address all of the quality-of-life issues, naturally, you will eradicate crime in those areas.”

Green thanked Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and his Public Safety Department team for partnering with East Orange to create a Border Patrol unit, composed of officers from both of the city’s police divisions, adding it is a direct response to concerns about public safety and crime that citizens in both cities have expressed.

“We’re glad that we continue to have partnerships with Newark,” Green said. “We thank the mayor of Newark. We thank (Newark) Public Safety Director (Anthony F.) Ambrose. We’re working together to make sure that, when it comes to both cities, we keep on promoting safety in both communities.”

With the new agreement between the East Orange and Newark police departments, 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 sixth and seventh precincts will coordinate with the East Orange Enhanced Community Safety Team to address crime trends along the border, according to Cordero.