Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $3,000,000)
The Newark Public Safety Collaborative: Empowering Community Organizations to Become Co-producers of Public Safety
Alejandro Gimenez-Santana, PhD
Joel M. Caplan, PhD
Leslie W. Kennedy, PhD
We propose to establish data-informed community engagement (DICE) as an innovative approach to crime reduction and prevention with a focus on the coproduction of public safety and multistakeholder collaboration. The Newark Public Safety Collaborative (NPSC) was formed in 2018 through a direct partnership with the Newark Mayor's Office to foster civic engagement in public safety. Over a four-year period, the NPSC has brought together forty-five local community agencies, including community-based organizations (CBOs), police, local government, and businesses. As a Rutgers-Newark anchor initiative, the NPSC seeks to (1) democratize the use of data and analytics, (2) empower community organizations to become coproducers of public safety, and (3) mobilize community resources and expertise to problem-solving Newark's most pressing crime issues. NPSC offers an alternative to traditional community policing practices by engaging community stakeholders in a data-informed discussion of crime problems that set a common agenda and shared expectations for solutions to these problems.
The proposed project, which seeks priority consideration under OJP 1(A) and 1(B), will develop and test NPSC's data-informed community engagement approach in five neighborhoods of Newark in partnership with three culturally specific organizations. The target areas fall within ZIP codes 07102, 07103, 07108, 07114, and 07106, which combined account for a total population of 118,000 Newark residents, roughly forty percent of the city's total population. These neighborhoods have been hit by the highest crime rates across the city, with one of every two violent crimes concentrated within these communities. With a requested budget of $3 million, NPSC, in partnership with United Vailsburg Services Organization, Newark Community Solutions, and Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, will develop and test DICE crime prevention strategies to reduce low-level criminal offenses through community programs directed at priority areas.
DICE strategies open the door to non-police-centric responses to crime problems that put the focus of crime prevention on places and not merely people. To identify priority areas for crime prevention activities, NPSC uses Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM). RTM data analyses offer the advantage of identifying where crime is concentrated and why these incidents are more prone to occur in some places and not others. This information can be critical for conducting problem-solving activities because it provides key insights that community agencies can use to unlock risk narratives explaining why crime clusters in priority areas. The result is a coordinated response between CBOs and law enforcement working collectively towards the common goal of delivering public safety.