NEWARK, NJ – Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced a reorganization of the city’s public safety agencies Monday that will unite them under one department.
Newark’s police, fire, emergency management and homeland security departments will be combined under the Department of Public Safety, Baraka said at a news conference at City Hall.
Baraka appointed Anthony Ambrose, a former Newark police chief, to the new position of public safety director. Ambrose currently is chief of detectives for Essex County.
Baraka said the changes will increase efficiency, accountability and response times; cut costs; and make for better intelligence sharing. He estimated the city would save between $500,000 and $600,000.
The consolidation will eliminate several top-level positions including fire director and assistant fire director and police director and assistant police director.
“There will be less people in charge at the top,” Baraka said. “We need this change.”
James Stewart, president of Newark’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, praised the choice of Ambrose.
“If the Public Safety Director is becoming the way municipalities approach things from an administration point of view, I think Anthony Ambrose is a great choice,” he said in an email. “He can get things accomplished and understands, and has been a part of, the Newark Police Department’s history.”
Baraka said he was partly motivated to make the changes by an uptick in violent crime in Newark this year. While property crimes — theft, auto theft, burglary and robbery — are down between 7 percent and 14 percent compared to 2014, 96 murders had been committed as of Dec. 13, compared to 92 a year ago.
The number of murders is up nearly 40 percent from 2008, when 67 were recorded, though it figures to fall well short of the 111 committed in 2013.
Aggravated assaults were up 5 percent this year and rapes have nearly doubled, from 44 to 83, compared to 2014.
From The Associated Press via The New Jersey Herald