Welcomed by a standing ovation, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop reaffirmed his commitment to the protection of each and every city resident at his third State of the City Address.
â€œNothing pains me more than knowing that a life of a community member was taken due to an act of violence in Jersey City. Each residentâ€™s life is priceless and I hold myself personally responsible for every act of violence that happens here in Jersey City.”
A few improvement strategies for public safety thatÂ Fulop highlighted were establishing a dedicated Public Safety Department, creating a Cease Fire Unit dedicated to closing non-fatal cases, opening the Melvin Santiago Precinct, which is the cityâ€™s first precinct since 1954, and the Jersey City Open Data portal that provides â€œunfiltered, unbiased data on crime.”
This was created to “breakdown the information barrier between government and resident in order to encourage honest dialogue and increasing public safety.â€
As far as hiring more police officers, according to Fulop, â€œa total of 55 new officers joined last year and a total of 110 are currently in training in the police academyâ€.
Additionally, 70 percent of the new officers are also minorities, which is improving the diversity of the police force.
There are also plans to build a new police headquarters and to reopen the Jersey City Police academy.
With the new Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, Fulop strongly believes that the violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of law, removing the most violent criminals from the neighborhoods.
This will open communication, dialogue and trust between the community and the police
Also through technology, body cameras will provide footage of the interaction between police and civilians to â€œadd some transparency, accountability and professionalism. More importantly it will help us build trust.â€
Fulop proudly stated that Jersey City has been in the â€œforefront of many social issues ranging from transgender rights,” as Jersey City was the first to offer health care to transgender city employees, and also will be a forefront in education since Jersey Cityâ€™s â€œpublic school district is about to regain local control of schools from the state of NJ for the first time in 27 years.â€
Fulop also highlighted improvements in unemployment and housing units.
â€œIn the last year the city has added 3,500 jobs, we opened more than 300 small businesses and reduced unemployment rate to a 25 year low of 4.1 percent: all in the last year.â€
Currently, there also over 7,000 housing units in development across Jersey City, â€œwith as many affordable units created within the last two year alone as the previous eight years combined.â€
This also includes Jersey Cityâ€™s first housing unit for veterans.
As far as progress with developments, he mentioned the largest towers in the city, a financial bank in the HUB, CITI Bike share program, and Berry Lane Park – which will be the largest park in Jersey City.
It was a very packed City Hall and it was Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro who first welcomed all the guests and touched on a few achievements the Fulop administration achieved within the last year.
This included breaking ground on the tallest building in the state of New Jersey at 99 Hudson Street,Â developing the first affordable housing in Downtown,Â the expansion the number of sick days, implementation of wage theft protection, health care optionsÂ for transgender city workers and the increase of minimum wage.
â€œJersey City is on the rise,â€ said Lavarro, â€œwe are on the right track and Mayor Fulop is leading the way.â€
Guests on hand included Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2), Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) – among many more.