Community Foundation of New Jersey

Self-Taught Criminologist Takes on Newark Crime

April 16, 2013

The Community Foundation is among many foundations and community organizations that have long worked to alleviate Newark’s chronic crime problem.  Funding the Newark Police Foundation has been a highlight, as has supporting programs such as “Operation Ceasefire” and “Community Eye”, both described below.

What we have found is that while dollars and political will are both critical to a program’s success, it is a determined and innovative champion who makes a program truly great.

It’s why we’re so pleased to work with people like David Kennedy, Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control.

Kennedy, who is a self-taught criminologist and noted expert in gang dynamics, spoke to NPR about his tested strategies for crime-reduction:

Kennedy’s homicide-reduction program, called Operation Ceasefire, brought gang members into meetings with community members they respected, social services representatives who could help them, and law enforcement officials who told them that they didn’t want to make arrests — they wanted the gang members to stay alive, and that they planned to aggressively target people who retaliated. The interventions worked to reduce the homicide rates.

“In city after city, what we see is you may have to do it once or twice, but as soon as the streets believe that that’s what’s going to happen, they change,” says Kennedy. “In the summer of 1996, just a few months after we implemented this [in North Carolina], the streets had quieted down dramatically, and they kept getting better.”

To listen to the full interview, click here.

To support Operation Ceasefire in Newark, login to your DonorCentral account here.


CFNJ Addresses Crime in Newark:

In an effort to combat gang violence, CFNJ joined with the Newark Police Department and several area foundations to initiate the “Operation Ceasefire” crime-prevention model, which was dramatically successful in Boston and Cincinnati.  The Newark Police Department leads the effort with support from experts at Rutgers University and the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at CUNY.  Based on the premise that violence and drug activity in troubled neighborhoods is caused predominantly by a remarkably small and active number of people locked in the group dynamics of gangs and drug crews, the program seeks to engage these groups and make clear the opportunities and consequences associated with continued criminal activity.  To read more about the program, click here.

In order to better monitor gun-related activity in neighborhoods, CFNJ worked with the City of Newark, the Newark Police Department, and other nonprofits to deploy a “Community Eye” technology platform.  The system’s network of audio gunshot detection technology and remote-control public surveillance cameras alerts police to gunshots in real time, allowing for faster responses.  The system is able to pinpoint the near-exact location of the gunshot, the number of shooters, the number of shots fired, and whether the shooter(s) were moving or stationary.  This detailed information and instant alerting allows the Newark Police Department to more effectively combat gun-related crimes.