Record-breaking low crime stats unveiled in East Orange

File Photo
Newly appointed Public Safety Department Director Dominick Saldida, second from left, standing with, from left, an unidentified man, East Orange Mayor Ted Green and police Chief Phyllis Bindi on Monday, Dec. 17, praised the city’s lower crime statistics at a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green, Public Safety Director Dominick Saldida and police Chief Phyllis Bindi hosted a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 5, to announce the city’s new crime statistics.

The press conference was the first one without Public Safety liaison Jose Cordero, who Green hired last year to spearhead his administration’s effort improve the city’s public safety. Cordero no longer works in East Orange, and the mayor hired Saldida on Monday, Dec. 17.

“Cordero was just on a consultant contract,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman and City Council Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Amy Lewis on Tuesday, Feb. 5. “He had no desire to become the public safety director. Dominick Saldida is now the director. Saldida spent most of his career in Newark.”

According to city officials, overall crime decreased an additional 19 percent after Green was sworn into office Jan. 1, 2018, and overall crime has decreased by 83 percent since 2003 to its lowest point since 1967.

City officials said there were 1,237 crimes reported in 2018, compared to 1,532 the previous year. After Green took office, he hired 34 new police officers, reactivated the Violent Crimes Task Force and collaborated with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka to establish a new Joint Border Patrol Program with the Newark Police Department.

“These positive crime results represent the progressive direction that East Orange is moving in, as a whole,” said Green on Tuesday, Feb. 5. “I commend the hard work of the men and women of our East Orange Police Division, along with our community partners, for making this remarkable transformation possible.”

Saldida also praised the East Orange Police Division for the public safety success that the new crime statistics represent.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women of the East Orange Police Division, who are committed every day to identifying new strategies to drive down crime, under the leadership of Chief Phyllis Bindi,” Saldida said. “I look forward to building upon this success and fostering an even higher level of mutual respect and cooperation among our officers and the people who live, work, visit and worship here.”

Bindi thanked Green and Saldida for their praise, on behalf of the East Orange Police Division, and commended the officers in her command for helping the mayor keep his campaign promise to make public safety his new administration’s top priority.

“It would have seemed unbelievable in 2003, when there were 7,249 crimes committed in East Orange, that we would be standing here in 2018, reporting an 83-percent reduction in overall crime, including a 75-percent drop in violent crime,” said Bindi on Tuesday, Feb. 5. “Thank you to the Green administration, the East Orange City Council and Public Safety Chairperson 1st Ward Councilwoman Amy Lewis for making public safety a priority and giving us the tools, resources and support needed to keep East Orange safe.”

Lewis said the new numbers speak for themselves. As the City Council’s Public Safety Committee chairwoman, she serves as the governing body’s official liaison to the Public Safety Division. In addition, her son is a member of the Fire Division.

“Well, Bindi has the numbers,” said Lewis on Saturday, Feb. 9. “I can tell you that, every time there is a violent crime, all council members receive a CPC Supervisory report, which we have not seen as often over the last two months.”

Lewis, who attended Green’s press conference on Saturday, Feb. 9, said she was very impressed by the new statistics and the public safety progress in the city.

“I was at the press conference today,” said Lewis on Saturday, Feb. 9. “I can tell you that the Joint Operation Venture with Newark and the surrounding cities has been successful, with respect to crime reduction.”

Lewis agreed that the new Quality of Life Task Force between East Orange and Newark is a continuation of the interdepartmental cooperation that officially began in November 2018 with the formation of the new Joint Border Patrol Program She also said, through the new agreement, one Newark police officer and one East Orange police officer will be assigned to the program seven days a week, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Commanders of Newark’s 6th and 7th Precinct will coordinate with the East Orange Enhanced Community Safety Team to address crime trends along the border.

“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, during the Quality of Life Task Force’s first major action at the corner of South Munn and Tremont avenues. “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 policing tactic of focusing on small, quality-of-life crimes, in order to prevent big crimes from happening. The New York Police Department used this method to great and sometimes controversial effect during former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration from the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Cordero, the former East Orange Police director credited with leading the policing reforms and technological innovations that helped the city achieve historic and internationally acclaimed reductions in crime and violence during the administration of former Mayor Robert Bowser, came to East Orange from the New York City Police Department and brought those tactics with him.

“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,” Bindi said.