Like in many New Jersey communities, gun violence, alcohol and drug-related incidents, and motor vehicle crashes are serious problems that affect the city on an almost daily basis in New Brunswick.
One murder has been reported so far in 2015. The year before saw four murders reported, down from a high of eight murders in 2012.
Numerous other crimes continue to plague the city. Robberies, burglaries, assaults, rapes, and car thefts are among the crimes that are tracked by the NJ State Police on a city-by-city basis.
Nonfatal shootings or incidents where no one is hit with gunfire, however, are not explicitly tracked, making it harder to say how much gun violence exists.
Law Enforcement and Police Services
New Brunswick is policed by several departments including the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD), Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department, awell as New Jersey State Police.
The main functions of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department are transporting prisoners, and protecting the safety of the County Courthouse, located in downtown.
Similarly, Amtrak and NJTransit police typically are focused on protecting the city’s two train stations, and the Middlesex County College Police Department is focused on the college’s New Brunswick Center at 120 New Street.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, based on the third floor of the building that houses NBPD, also has law enforcement officials on its payroll.
Similarly, officials at the state Attorney General’s Office and the federal Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigations have jurisdiction in New Brunswick, but do not have offices in the city.
Additionally, there are six enforcement officers who are allowed to give parking tickets for the New Brunswick Parking Authority. Police can also give parking violations, but only on public property.
Rutgers University’s Department of Transportation Services handles parking enforcement on the school’s enormous campus.
Both the NBPD and RUPD are operating out of relatively new facilities.
The New Brunswick Police Department had been located in Boyd Park on the opposite side of Route 18 until the Civic Square Building opened in 2000. It is home to the municipal court, police station, and several other city and county offices.
The Rutgers Police Department was headquartered on Huntington Street, before relocating to the Rutgers Public Safety Building at 55 Commercial Avenue.
In 2013 and 2014, there was a high-profile controversy over the jurisdiction in which Rutgers University Police Department was able to enforce traffic laws.
New Brunswick Today sued Rutgers and the City of New Brunswick to force them to reveal the secret maps that showed the jurisdiction had been restricted in December 2013.
Police Problems in New Brunswick
While many law enforcement officers are well-intentioned and extremely brave, the legal system often puts them in challenging situations where they may be inclined to bend or break rules to protect their fellow officers, or their friends and family.
These situations also put members of the public, including victims, suspects, and criminals, in danger of having their rights violated under the color of law.
Police in New Brunswick have been known to escalate situations in certain cases, by using excessive force and other inappropriate tactics.
In the past 25 years, New Brunswick police have killed at least three unarmed people, and injured countless others.
In September 2011, officer Brad Berdel shot and killed Barry Deloatch, an unarmed city resident and father of two. The killing sparked massive protests, including one where two protestors were arrested by a swarm of police in riot gear for no apparent reason.
Under scrutiny for the killing of Deloatch, the NBPD’s credibility sufferred another blow when Sgt. Richard Rowe was charged with failing to properly investigate 81 different internal affairs complaints filed against his fellow officers. The charge was eventually dismissed and Rowe was admitted to pre-trial intervention.
About a decade earlier, Detective John Marshall and Officer Marco Chinchilla were convicted of running three houses of prostitution in the city.
In the late 1980’s, police director James Gassaro was indicted for concealing his involvement in a land deal, though the conviction was later overturned.
The city, and the police department, are currently being sued by a number of people who feel their rights were violated, including a group of black NBPD officers who have alleged racial and political discrimination on the part of the city leadership and police directors past and present.
The New Brunswick Fire Department is the only municipal fire department in Middlesex County where all participants in the operation are paid employees. It currently operates three firehouses: one on Bartlett Street near CAC, one on Burnet Street near the interchange of Routes 1 and 18, and NBFD headquarters, located on Joyce Kilmer Avenue.
A Fire Department Museum is set to open on the second floor of a firehouse that has been re-opened as a community center on Remsen Avenue.
The city’s staff of housing inspectors was merged with the city’s fire inspectors shortly after a federal investigation led to the departure of two inspectors. The inspectors are in charge of issuing court summonses for violations of the city’s property maintenance code.
In December 2013, the city’s Chief Housing Inspector Michael Mahony was arrested by State Police and charged with dealing cocaine using his city-owned vehicle. Mahony resigned but avoided jail by pleading guilty to a third-degree charge.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
While police and firefighters are often capable of providing first aid and handling a wide variety of medical issues, the city’s first responders also include a number of paramedics and emergency medical technicians based out of the area’s largest hospital.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) provides ambulance service throughout the city as part of an agreement reached decades ago, and is often the primary destination for people with injuries and medical problems.
In situations when RWJUH is “on divert” and unavailable to take new patients, people in need of medical attention are transported to St. Peter’s University Hospital. If neither hospital can accept patients, JFK Medical Center in Edison is the next closest facility.
Rutgers University also has their own fleet of ambulances, and a wide variety of other ambulances can be seen and heard regularly traveling through New Brunswick to and from the city’s major hospitals.
Because RWJUH is the area’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, patients in serious emergencies are often transported by helicopter to the hospital.
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.