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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Newly-released crime statistics show that the city has experienced a surge in armed robberies during the first part of 2014, while the city’s two major police departments were engaged in a bitter jurisdictional dispute that still has not been resolved.
Since December 6, the Rutgers Police Department has been forced to adapt to a much smaller chunk of the city where its officers are allowed to enforce motor vehicle laws such as drunk driving.
The changes came quietly at the behest of controversial New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo.
New Brunswick Today sued the city and Rutgers to force the release of the secret police jurisdiction maps, confirming the degree of the changes.
While the drama played out publically, the city sufferred, with two people murdered in the span of two weeks. In 2013, there city’s first of three murders did not occur until July.
Other categories of crime also increased at an alarming clip.
Unarmed robberies, burglaries, and larceny, were all up in the first three months of the year, but not nearly as sharply as the 172% spike in armed robberies.
The New Brunswick Police Department reported 51 total robberies in the first three months of 2014, up from 29 during the same time period last year.
Of the 2014 robberies, thirty were committed with the aid of a weapon, while 21 were classified as “Strong Arm (Hands, Fist, etc.)” on the state’s Uniform Crime Report.
Twenty-four of the robberies were committed with a firearm, up from just nine at the same point last year.
Three robberies were committed with a knife, and another three used something that could only be classified as “Other Deadly Weapon.”
In all of 2013, there were just 42 robberies committed with firearms, a slight decrease from 43 the year before.
But now, New Brunswick is on pace to have 96 such robberies in the calendar year, if they continue to be reported at the same rate.
Director Caputo and a spokesperson for Mayor James Cahill did not yet respond to a request for comment on the crime statistics.
Last year, the city police department “cleared,” or solved just 11 of the 59 armed robbery cases. The NJ State Police did not provide clearance data in the new quarterly report, issued for the first time earlier this month.
Data had previously been released on a monthly basis.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.