Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $700,000)
The Newark Police Division (NPD) serves the largest city in the State of New Jersey, home to a population of 311,549. In 2021, Newark led New Jersey with the most gun violence incidents and victims. The city represents about 3% of the state’s population, but also represents 25% of fatal and non-fatal gun violence incidents and victims (NJ State Police). From 2019 to 2020, fatal shootings increased by 3%, followed by a 9% increase from 2020 to 2021. Year to date, the NPD has recovered 286 guns off the streets, a 47% increase from the year before already. The task of responding to gun crimes, including recovering guns and investigating gun crimes, is getting more challenging in numbers and criminal advancements.
The NPD seeks to make the acquisitions necessary to formalize a Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC). The foundation exists in Newark for the establishment of a formal CGIC. The NPD assigned investigators to the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in 2020 to incorporate detectives into the U.S. Attorney’s Office on a full-time basis. This has grown into a partnership that includes the ATF, DEA, and FBI to collaborate on gun crime intelligence in the city. As a jurisdiction plagued by gun violence and multi-generational poverty, the NPD must leverage existing agreements to maximize new resources for the establishment of a CGIC.
Our goal is to enhance resources to reduce violent crime in Newark. Through this program, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will be allocated 20% of grant funds to prioritize the prosecution of gun crime cases. The ballistics laboratory will receive a new microscope that will save investigators time and result in higher quality findings. The NPD recognizes the importance of accessing the personal technology of shooters to fully investigate gun crimes. Therefore, the NPD is requesting funding for the purchase of Cellebrite and GrayKey software to extract criminal cell phone data.
The NPD VCI identified one of the biggest challenges involving the city’s gun crimes as the prevalence of vehicles. As part of the city’s plan to expand the Shotspotter system, the NPD seeks to deploy license plate readers to uncovered high-crime areas in the city. Each proposed project expenditure will help the NPD expand its intelligence apparatus and provide the CGIC with the tools to produce and share the best information possible to curb gun crimes and lead to more arrests of violent criminals.