Offers Office for Meeting Among State, County and City Officials; Says Trenton PD Put in ‘Untenable Situation’ With Fewer Officers, Rising Crime
TRENTON – Sen. Shirley Turner today offered to broker a meeting among state, county and city law enforcement officials that could lead to the New Jersey State Police playing an expanded role in policing the capital city, a move she said is necessary to not only bolster the depleted ranks of the Trenton Police Department, but also to improve the safety, morale, and peace of mind of residents and those who work in and visit the capital city.
“Crime in Trenton is not just keeping people out of the city, it’s even keeping those who live here from wanting to leave their homes for fear of violence,” said Turner (D-Mercer). “Church leaders have told me of dwindling Sunday congregations because people are afraid of the streets. Business has declined and new businesses aren’t opening because of the fear of violence. The housing market has stagnated. The entire future of Trenton rests on the city being able to secure its streets and ensure the public’s safety. And to do that, they need help.”
Last year, the city laid off more than 100 police officers due to budget cuts – one-third of the force.
“The Trenton police are doing their very best, but they have been put in an untenable situation,” said Turner.
Turner availed her office to newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Chiesa for a meeting with local and county officials that could lead to a State Police deployment. Turner noted that additional State Police resources were recently deployed in Camden to help fight rising crime in that city; that deployment came after city officials met with former Attorney General Paula Dow and the county prosecutor to lay out a more aggressive public safety strategy.
“We need to have a very frank discussion at all levels about the needs of Trenton and how best to meet them,” said Turner. “The State Police would be welcomed with open arms by residents, but we need to make sure we have in place a set and workable public safety strategy to best manage resources at every stage.”
The senator noted that the State Police’s state headquarters is located roughly a mile outside of Trenton, and that numerous troopers already are on regular patrol around the State House complex on West State Street.
“In Trenton, the State Police would not be entering an area unknown to them, but instead increasing their presence in a city where they are known,” said Turner. “By expanding their zone for patrols, they could alleviate the increasing pressure on Trenton police and allow them to better focus their resources. And when a Trenton officer needs backup, they will be in a prime position to assist. We cannot allow the city’s quality of life to deteriorate further, when a possible solution is within reach.”