IRVINGTON, NJ — Mayor Tony Vauss and Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers were set to unveil their 2019 Summer Crime Plan at a press conference outside the Municipal Building in D. Bilal Beasley Square on Wednesday, July 17, which occurred after press time.
“Every year, the plan is updated to reflect the current circumstances in the township, and this year is no different,” Vauss said July 15. “For the first time ever, Director Bowers and I have identified a team of police officers and firefighters who will be patrolling the community to hear directly from residents what their issues and concerns are. The goal is to enhance the ways in which police and fire can better serve and protect the Irvington community.”
Vauss said he and Bowers are unveiling a fleet of new police vehicles that will be ready for use immediately as part of the 2019 Summer Crime Plan. Last year, they said Irvington experienced no homicides and fewer major crimes than during summer 2017, making 2018 one of the safest on record.
“Going from 15 homicides in a summer to zero, that’s impressive, but the hardest thing for us now is to keep that going,” Vauss said July 8.
Vauss said it’s tough to continue building on the momentum he and Bowers have built up since he was sworn into office in 2014.
“Every year we’re always on pins and needles because right now we have broken the record for lowest crime stats but we’ve still got half a year to go,” Vauss said. “Tracy always tells me: ‘Mayor we’re doing so well that the hardest thing to do is repeat it.’”
According to Vauss though, this is a good problem to have. He said keeping Irvington clean and safe has been his administration’s top priority, reducing crime by increasing public safety.
Vauss also admitted that it helps to be lucky when it comes to keeping his administration’s three-year streak of homicide-free summers intact. The township suffered its third homicide of the year on June 19, but since summer officially began June 21 the streak is still alive. Summer officially ends Sept. 23.
“The last homicide was because we are out there doing our job,” Vauss said. “Word in the street is they were telling the guy that he had to stop what he was doing because he was making the block hot. Real unfortunate.”
Former Mayor Wayne Smith coined the phrase “summer spike” to describe the annual increase in crime in town that occurs during the summer months when the temperature increases, the weather gets better and the public schools close for two months. However, prior to 2014 township officials never implemented a policing strategy specifically designed to address public safety issues, concerns and challenges during the “summer spike.”
But all of that changed once Vauss became mayor and tapped Bowers to as police director and then as public safety director. And now that positive trend continues with the July 17 SCP unveiling.
“Each summer we put out this plan to leverage resources like personnel and equipment to keep the township as safe as we can, especially in the areas where we have had problems,” Bowers said July 9. “It’s the summertime and more people are out and about. So the Summer Crime Plan strategically deals with those dynamics using police strategies and initiatives combining crime data and intelligence. It is our goal to achieve the same results as the previous summers.”
For more information about the 2019 Summer Crime Plan, contact Samantha J. Mendenhall, confidential assistant to the mayor, at 973-399-6657.