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Rice Calls For Essex County Violent Crimes Summit

Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, speaks at a meeting of his committee.

Urges Essex County Residents to Be Careful This Holiday Season

TRENTON – In response to the increasing number of violent crimes being perpetrated in Essex County, State Senator Ronald L. Rice today said that he would seek to meet with the State Attorney General and members of the Essex County Legislative Delegation to develop a State action plan to address the rise in violent crime in Essex County communities.

“Every day, we’re forced to read in the newspaper about more homicides, shootings and car jackings in our communities,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, who spent eight years in the Newark Police Department, rising to the rank of detective. “Every day, we’re faced with the loss of our best and brightest young people, cut down in the prime of their life due to street crime. We need to develop a plan of attack to quickly and efficiently reduce violent crimes and make our streets safe for law-abiding citizens.”

Senator Rice noted that, in the past year, shootings, car-jackings and muggings have been on the rise in Essex County – particularly Newark – where even a lieutenant in the State Attorney General’s office was car-jacked at gunpoint last night.

“Obviously crime doesn’t discriminate when even crime-stoppers are being attacked,” said Senator Rice. “The criminal element on our streets has been victimizing honest, hard-working Essex County residents for far too long. Earlier this month, acting Essex County Prosecutor (Robert) Laurino sought assistance from the New Jersey National Guard to help protect law-abiding residents. We cannot ignore the facts, and must act quickly to bring law and order back to Essex County streets.”

According to news reports, there have been 119 homicides in Essex County this year, including 76 in Newark. Senator Rice acknowledged that local and county officials are already working with State police and other law enforcement agencies to address the uptick in violent crimes, but said he wants to engage the legislative delegation in order to provide whatever support may be needed to make Essex County communities safer.

“I don’t think it’s enough to have an informal partnership between law enforcement agencies,” said Senator Rice. “I think that if we’re going to get to the root of the violent crimes in Newark, we have to be proactive, and that may require the State Legislature and Attorney General’s office to sit down with law enforcement officials and determine what back-up they may need on the legislative side.”

Senator Rice added that while Essex County legislators and State, county and local officials develop a plan to address the rise in violent crime, he is urging local residents to be more diligent and follow best practices to stay safe this holiday season.

“Unfortunately, we often see an increase in violent crime centering around the holiday season,” said Senator Rice. “I would urge local residents to be aware of this and do whatever they can to avoid turning holiday celebration into another tragic statistic for Essex County.”