EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green will host his second State of the City Address on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m. in the Cicely Tyson School of the Performing and Fine Arts.
Last year, Green’s first State of the City Address focused on his administration’s planned efforts to improve economic redevelopment, as well as other progressive policies he’d helped former Mayor Lester Taylor put into motion as the former 3rd Ward councilman and two-term council chairman. In addition to his new public outreach efforts, such as the “Mayor on the Block” walking and listening tours, which were designed to “bring city government to the people,” Green also listed his plans to revamp the city’s Public Safety Department by hiring new police officers and firefighters, bringing back former police Director Jose Cordero to serve as his public safety liaison, reconstituting the Police Division’s Violent Crime Taskforce, and kicking off the “Drive Right Be Right” motor vehicle traffic campaign.
This year, city officials said Green will focus on his administration’s recent public safety improvements, including: hiring Public Safety Director Dominick Saldida, partnering with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the Newark Police Division to form a joint Border Patrol Unit and the historic crime statistics improvements. He will also discuss his Quality of Life Task Force efforts to clean up the city, purchasing five new street sweepers, and his recreation and cultural affairs efforts, including hosting a more inclusive annual Tree-Lighting Ceremony and Gift Giveaway and the first citywide Kwanzaa celebration.
“I think that East Orange decided, as a city, to celebrate Kwanzaa for seven days. I think this is powerful,” said Dr. Akil Khalfani of the Essex County College Africana Institute on Tuesday Jan. 1, the last day of the citywide celebration. “I haven’t seen this before and I think this is a marvelous opportunity for the city and the community to be exposed to all the elements of Kwanzaa and to do it on a citywide basis and around the city. Mayor Green has been 100 percent behind it.”
East Orange Police Chief Phyllis Bindi agreed with Green regarding public safety and quality-of-life initiatives on Friday Jan. 11, when she joined the mayor and his Clean Community Quality-of-Life Taskforce composed of the Police, Code Enforcement and Public Works departments. She said the Border Patrol and Quality-of-Life Task Force are true collaborations between East Orange and Newark, and a continuation of interdepartmental cooperation.
“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.”
According to city officials, overall crime has decreased 19 percent since Green was sworn into office Jan. 1, 2018, and by 83 percent since 2003 to the lowest it has been since 1967.
Officials stated that 1,237 crimes were reported in 2018, a decrease from 1,532 the previous year. Since Green took office, 34 new police officers were hired, the Violent Crimes Task Force was reactivated, and the city has collaborated with Baraka to establish a new Joint Border Patrol Program with the Newark Police Division.
“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.”
As the City Council’s Public Safety Committee chairwoman, Lewis is the liaison to the Public Safety Department, which includes the Police Division, Fire Division, the Office of Emergency Management and all the city’s other first responders and emergency service providers. She agreed the new public safety numbers speak for themselves.
“I can tell you that the joint operation venture with Newark and the surrounding cities has been successful, with respect to crime reduction,” said Lewis on Tuesday, Feb. 5, during the press conference to announce the new positive Public Safety Division statistics to the public. “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.”