Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea discussed a number of topics including the department’s diversity, a new phone app to engage the community and ongoing issues related to violent crime – specifically the recent shooting death of a 19-year-old.
On the topic of the diversity of the police force, Shea said that the last three recruitment classes had an overwhelming amount of minority applicants – if women are counted as a minority.
“Our last two police classes and including our third one, we are now … if you count women as minorities, which are not minorities in this country but are minorities in policing so we want to get more women in, if you count women as minorities our last class was 97 percent, minority applicants,” Shea said at the Hank Gallo Community Center in Lincoln Park last night.
He later explained that a new initiative the department is taking on is a phone app that would allow private citizens to report public safety issues as they’re happening.
The app, which will be tested out by Shea, Mayor Steven Fulop and other city officials last month, will allow residents to report issues related to littering, illegally parked cars and just about anything else in real time.
When it was time to discuss violent crime, Shea said that gun violence is now typically starting and ending in Jersey City – as opposed to previous year.
“The final sad part about our gun violence, and talking about what we’re trying to do about gun violence: it is for little or no reason,” Shea said.
“It’s not a fight over a drug corner that’s worth $100,000, it’s not, it is usually for little or not reason – and as little as a slight on social media.”
A representative from Progressive Leadership Opportunities for Tomorrow, better known as PLOT, said gang culture in Jersey City is a serious issue that should not be overlooked.
“Jersey City kids, I know a lot of them, from difference areas: Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, uptown, downtown, that Chicago mentality really rubbed off on them. Got that Chicago gang style, you understand? They don’t even play no more: they shooting everything in the head … so it’s deeper than just Facebook ” said Jaleel Williams.
Additionally, local blogger Bruce Alston questioned Shea on how bail reform could have saved the life of DaJour Riley, a 19-year-old city resident who was gunned down last month.
At his Ward B State of the City Address, Fulop was critical of state bail reform, specifically that possession of illegal guns is no longer classified as violent crime.
Shea defended his position by stating that Riley had 18 arrests and a stint in jail could have potentially saved his life.
“At some point, he might have been better off, if society as a whole, took those gun arrests more seriously and said ‘you are heading … there’s only one way for this to end. And we might be doing you a favor by putting you in jail for this gun,” he stated, later calling Riley’s death “inevitable” and “pretty predictable.”
After another resident encouraged Shea to go after the “hot spots” that are supplying guns, Board Member Pamela Johnson said there needs to be “an internal measure” to figure out why someone like Riley is gunned down.