Sellinger, Fulop, & Shea say federal partnership led to drop in Jersey City’s violent crime


U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger joined Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea to tout a federal partnership that they all say led to a drop in violent crime locally during a press conference about the crime statistics from 2023.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“ … It still represents the lowest homicide rate Jersey City has ever seen since records have been kept, significant progress,” Fulop, also a Democratic candidate for governor, said at the Public Safety Headquarters on Martin Luther King Drive.

“When you compare the 100 largest cities in the country, that’s generally where our comparison is, Jersey City, for the first time, ranks lower than New York for a homicide rate ever and amongst the lowest on the East Coast. The data actually shows the lowest [homicide rate for a city] east of Texas.”

Compared to 2022, Jersey City’s homicides are down from 12 to 10, with shootings dropping slightly as well, from 52 to 47.

Sellinger stated that the violent crime initiative with the city has paid dividends.

“Through this partnership, we have committed federal resources to this effort and to ensuring the safety of Jersey City residents, as that is, as I said, our highest priority. This year, as the mayor stated, we have seen record-breaking statistics in Jersey City,” he noted.

“While every homicide and senseless shooting is tragic, these hard-earned reductions in homicides and shootings are the result of the collaboration of those who are up here today, and others as well. Together, the Jersey City Police Department, our office, and our other law enforcement partners, have gathered intelligence for years that has helped us target those who have caused the violence in the communities here.”

He also said that prosecutors are assigned to specific gangs in the city, such as a street gang associated with the Marion Gardens Housing Complex, and a gang-related murder comes with a mandatory life sentence.

This also includes anyone involved with the crime, not just the person who commits the homicide. Sellinger continued that eight alleged Jersey City gang members facing mandatory life sentences, while 20 more have cases pending for non-fatal crimes.

Reviewing seven other crime categories, motor vehicle thefts dropped from 738 to 629 since last year, burglaries down from 828 to 725, robbery with a weapon decreasing from 138 to 117, criminal mischief down a hair from 1,031 to 1,014, and larceny theft moving from 3,186 to 2,913.

The two categories that went up since 2022 are robbery, from 300 to 357, and aggravated assault going up marginally from 783 to 789.

Public Safety Director James Shea said that there have been arrests so far in nine of the 10 homicides this year, with the most recent one being a fatal stabbing on the West Side of the city Friday evening, which he believes will be solved in short order.

He added that robberies are up due to shoplifting incidents that become violent, as well as noting that simple assaults are not increasing at the same rate as aggravated assaults.

Fulop later attributed Vision Zero as to why their were no traffic deaths on city streets this year, getting illegal guns off the streets safely, and installing more surveillance cameras each year – in 2014 there were 50, now there are 1,030.

During the question and answer portion with the media, Shea told HCV that getting illegal guns off the streets is a comprehensive process that the department has been fortunate to be successful and safe simultaneously.

“Stopping people carrying illegal guns involves stopping people and very dangerous people. So it’s a high percentage of when force is used, it’s a high percentage of times there’s civilian complaints issued against the police, and a high percentage when people see us stopping someone and think that we’re stopping someone who was just walking down the street because they don’t know what we know.”

He also indicated that many officers who become detectives have the ability to then join the cease fire unit, carving out a specific career path for officers who want to combat gun violence.

On another note, Shea and Fulop heard several questions that were critical of the fact that crime data is not regularly available on the city website, to which Shea said that they report all of their statistics to the state and federal government and that “we guarantee they’re accurate.”

“The data will be posted, as we have it, throughout the year. This is exactly how we do it. We’ve been doing this for the last several years because crime doesn’t move downward in a straight line, it changes by week – correct?” Fulop added.

“And we share that information with the community groups, we go to the community groups and we do have conversations with them about trends that are happening in the community, but we post at the end of the year like we post all our other data.”

Fulop further stated that many crime statistics, particularly homicides and shootings, are “impossible to negotiate,” as well as that violent crime tends to follow national trends.

“Now if you are a victim of a violent crime or a personal property crime, that feels personal and a personal violation, and so you certainly will feel like the area around you is unsafe and our goal is to drive those down to zero. We aren’t satisfied with this: We are satisfied when everyone lives in a safe neighborhood where they don’t have property crimes or violent crimes.”

Speaking with HCV after the event, Fulop said homicides and shooting began to come down in 2018 when the VCI program started, and that a spike in violent crime occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, consistent with cities nationwide.

When asked about police overtime going over their budget for the past few years, he noted that the police budget has been consistently been between $104 and $108 million during his administration.

“A lot of that overtime is a byproduct of these fixed posts that are in some of the most problematic areas of the city, having an increased police presence has made a huge difference in the numbers that you’ve seen, a lot of that is done through the overtime,” Fulop explained.

“When you look at the budget of the Jersey City Police Department, with regards to where it was in 2013 to where it is in 2023, it is actually the same. It speaks the fact that while people might highlight one component of the budget, it’s been relatively flat during an extended period of time, despite the fact we’ve invested in technology and new officers at a very significant pace.”

A look at all the statistics reviewed today are available on the city’s website.

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  1. Mayor Fulop is blocking over a hundred million dollar Federally funded flood protection projects and if we have another Sandy type event he will be responsible for the destruction.