Share |

City Leaders Have Little to Say About Big Increase in Violent Crime

Gun Assaults Up 65% in New Brunswick Despite Statewide Decline in Crime, New City Council President: "I Can't Tell You What's Being Done About It."
Cahill and Egan
Council President Kevin Egan and Mayor James Cahill have little to say about the sharp increase in assaults. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— Aggravated assaults, and those involving dangerous weapons, were up 47% during the first eleven months of 2014 in New Brunswick, compared to the same period in 2013, according to New Jersey State Police crime statistics.

From January through November 2014, the New Brunswick Police Department investigated at least 160 assaults that either involved a dangerous weapon or were categorized as "aggravated assaults," including a 65% increase in assaults involving a gun over the previous year's stats.

By contrast, New Jersey saw a 16.5% decrease in that category during the same time period, according to the most recent numbers available.

The numbers also show that the NBPD solves crimes at a far lower rate than the state's other police agencies in nearly every category, solving just 4.6% of the city's 482 burglaries in the first eleven months of 2014 and just 10.2% of its 924 larceny cases.

Robberies and homicides are also on the rise in the Hub City, increasing 34% and 33% respectively, during the first eleven months of 2014 versus the same period in 2013, according to the data.

A spokesperson for Mayor James Cahill and a New Brunswick Police Department Captain who serves as public information officer for the agency did not respond to questions about the statistics.

In an interview with New Brunswick Today, Mayor Cahill pointed to the hiring of eleven new police officers to replace some of those who have retired.

"We've developed a very good and cooperative with Rutgers University and their police department, and we are continuing to improve intellligence gathering in and around the different neighborhoods, particularly where those seem to be incurring some increase in criminal activity," said Cahill.

Questioning the statistics, Council President Kevin Egan admitted he could not say what was being done in response to the sharp increase in the number of serious assaults.

"I can't tell you what we're doing about it," said Egan.  "Our police are doing an outstanding job every day. If there's a hole in the crack, they try to fix it."

"If there's a problem, their superiors are trying to fix the problem," said Egan.  "But I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of the police and you know that."

None of the City Council's four other members had anything to add to the discussion.

Assault data is categorized by the weapon used: gun, knife or cutting instrument, other dangerous weapon, or "aggravated."  Each category was on the rise in the first eleven months of 2014 in the Hub City:

  • Gun: 28 assaults in 2014 vs. 17 in 2013 (up by 65%)
  • Knife or Cutting Instrument: 30 assaults in 2014 vs. 21 in 2013 (up by 43%)
  • Other dangerous weapons: 43 assaults in 2014 vs. 28 in 2013 (up by 54%)
  • Aggravated (hands, fists, feet, etc.): 59 assaults in 2014 vs. 43 in 2013 (up by 37%)

Statewide, assaults were on the decline during the same time period, with a 17% decrease in assaults with a gun, and a 1% decrease in assaults overall.

The NBPD saw slight decreases in the number of reported rapes, burglaries, larceny offenses, and motor vehicle thefts during the first eleven months of 2014.  "Simple assaults" were down 34% versus the prior year, as well.

But the city also saw four reported murders in 2014, each with a different weapon, the highest number of homicides of any community in Middlesex County.

One man was killed with a gun, another was stabbed to death, another was struck by a bottle, and another man was beaten with a hammer, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO).

City residents have also raised concerns that at least one death last January was not classified as a murder by authorities, but should have been ruled a homicide.

Of the six surrounding towns, only North Brunswick and Somerset County's Franklin Township had any reported homicides.  Both communities saw one reported murder in 2014.

Elsewhere in Middlesex County, Carteret had two homicides, and Perth Amboy had one, meaning New Brunswick was home to half of the reported murders in the county.

Investigators "cleared," or allegedly solved, all four murders in 2014.

Simple assaults, and burglaries are reported to be on the decline, although clearance rates for these crimes are low, falling well below the state averages.

Overall, authorities solved 28% of the crimes in the categories reported to New Jersey State Police during the first eleven months of 2014, but NBPD solved just 14% of those crimes within their jurisdiction, 316 of the 2,254 offenses in the official crime reports.

By comparison, police statewide solved 28% of crimes reported on the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR's).  New Brunswick Police ranked far behind the statewide clearance rate for every category of crime included in the NJSP report except for motor vehicle theft.

In the first eleven months of 2014, there were 431 burglaries reported in New Brunswick , of which only 4.6% have been "cleared."

On average, 13.8% of New Jersey burglaries were allegedly solved during the same time period.

Type of Crime Crimes in
New Brunswick
NBPD
Clearance Rate
Statewide 
Clearance Rate
Murder 4 50% 59%
Rape 18 27.8% 31.3%
Robbery 190 12.1% 24.7%
Serious Assault 160 31.9% 52.8%
Simple Assault 403 27.5% 47.0%
Burglary 482 4.6% 13.8%
Larceny 924 10.2% 22.4%
Motor Vehicle Theft 73 11.0% 5.7%
TOTAL 2,254 14.0% 28.0%

 

Under fire from parents, students, and residents, Rutgers University Police Department pledged to release details of any serious crime it learns of within the Fifth and Sixth Wards of the city.

Yet, many seemingly serious crimes near campus have gone without a crime alert. 

As we reported NBPD does not issue crime alerts to the general public for every serious crime that occurs in their jurisdiction.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated that two of the city's four murders in 2014 were solved, based on the NJ State Police crime stats.  NBPD Police Captain JT Miller indicated that all four were solved.  The article has been updated to reflect that.