Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

2022 NJ traffic fatalities highest in 15 years

January 9, 2023

New Jersey had 705 traffic fatalities in 2022, the highest number since 2007, as reported here. Fatalities have increased in each of the last three years, with 2022 having 150 more than in 2019, a 27% increase. According to one official, “I continue to read about the impact the pandemic has had on people’s attitudes. It seems there’s a laissez-faire mindset when it comes to safety on the road.” Advocates point to extreme speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and driving while impaired as primary causes.

Back to chasing cars in New Jersey

May 31, 2022

Last December New Jersey revised its statewide use of force policy to prohibit car chases for auto theft and most drug offenses, citing the harm caused by crashes during pursuits. However, as reported here, the state has reversed its decision pertaining to auto thefts in the face of a significant increase in stolen vehicles — a 37% increase so far in 2022 over 2021, with an even bigger increase of 53% since 2020. Besides re-instituting pursuits, the state will invest an additional $10 million in license plate reader technology.

The true cost of policing

January 25, 2022

New Jersey’s 24,000 police officers earned an average of $123,000 in the pre-pandemic year 2019, according to an exhaustive analysis of payroll records reported here. A big reason was overtime and approved details, such as standing by (usually sitting by) roadway construction and maintenance projects. One police chief added $105,000 to his wages by working the equivalent of 108 extra traffic detail days. One officer’s records indicated he had worked 19 or more hours within a 24-hour period 17 times during the year. Besides the high dollar cost of this situation, experts point out that performance tends to seriously degrade after about 12 hours on duty. Also, some officers “believe they can get no sleep and it’s fine and that it makes them Superman … That’s their own personal belief, but it is not accurate.”

More died from gunshots than car crashes in 2020

January 11, 2022

According to CDC data, gunshot deaths exceeded car crash fatalities in 2020 for the 4th year in a row, as reported here. More than 45,000 people died of gunshot wounds in the U.S., an all-time high. The total was up 14% over 2019, the biggest one year spike on record. The age-adjusted gun death rate was the highest since 1994. The increase was largely driven by homicides, which increased 35% in one year. Mississippi and Louisiana had the highest rates of gun deaths, while Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey had the lowest. Mississippi’s rate was more than 8 times higher than Hawaii’s and more than twice the national average. Nationally, Black males between the ages of 15-34 continued to bear the brunt of gun homicides, accounting for 42% of victims — but representing only 2% of the population.

Tracing guns involved in gun crime

November 9, 2021

Many cities have seen big increases in gun crime last year and this year. This article explains why tracing crime guns is so difficult and summarizes what’s known about the pathway of guns to crimes. The U.S. has about 100 million gun owners and 400 million guns, the vast majority of which are never involved in crime. But when a gun is involved in a crime, tracing its history can be nearly impossible, in part because only its original sale by a licensed dealer has to be reported. Subsequent private sales, swaps, and gun thefts are hardly ever documented. The article further explains the importance of straw purchases and the more recent phenomenon of ghost guns, which are assembled from purchased parts, lack serial numbers, and thus are effectively unregistered and untraceable. 

Firearms mortality by state

March 26, 2021

In 2020, 44,000 Americans died by firearm in the U.S. — almost 20,000 by murder or accident, and 24,000 by suicide. This short column presents data on death by firearms by state for the previous year, 2019. Two states, Alaska and Mississippi, had firearms mortality rates 7 times higher than the state with the lowest rate, Massachusetts. Besides Alaska and Mississippi, other states with rates above 20 per 100,000 population were Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Missouri. Along with Massachusetts, states with fewer than 5 per 100,000 were Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.


December 19, 2020

This two-part story from Arnold Ventures, here and here, describes the development of the ICAT (Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics) model and de-escalation training. Initiated in 2014, it was controversial and strongly resisted at first, but since then has been widely adopted and found to be effective. The two-part series includes testimonials from officers in several departments who acknowledge they were skeptical at first but discovered that the training was realistic and practical, and who have since been able to apply it in the field.

Police privilege

September 8, 2020

Some police labor groups give their members “courtesy cards” to distribute to family and friends, as reported here. Also called “get out of jail free cards,” they are meant to influence an officer’s decision making and use of discretion when the card-holder has been caught committing some kind of minor infraction. The New York officers’ union issues hundreds of thousands of the cards each year, but “PBA cards aren’t a normal part of life for most people in the U.S.” — though “collectible” versions are for sale on eBay. Observers differ on whether the cards are just a small curiosity or a reflection of “the biases, prejudices, and institutionally supported pecking order of policing on the whole.”

National registry of police misconduct

June 15, 2020

One of the proposals currently being discussed is the creation of a national database or clearinghouse of information on officers who have been fired or allowed to resign due to misconduct. The registry would contain more detailed information than the existing National Decertification Index, allowing agencies to better screen applicants who previously worked for another police department. This article notes that the idea has been suggested before but has never gotten far in Congress, mainly because of opposition from police unions. Also, implementation would likely to be challenging, since “You’ve got 50 different states with 50 different systems, you’ve got different definitions and different standards” reflecting the fact that governance of policing in the U.S. has traditionally been a state and local responsibility.

Pandemic trends in crime and calls for service

May 22, 2020

Jurisdictions are experiencing a variety of trends associated with the virus pandemic. Jersey City reports an increase in street violence and is on pace to seize 50% more illegal guns compared to last year. Year-to-date homicides in Milwaukee are more than double the number from 2019, with 40% linked to family violence. Honolulu police have re-arrested 47 people who had gotten COVID-related jail releases; new charges have included “robbery, assault, burglary,  … smashing the windshield of a car while people were inside, sexual assault and theft.” Nationally, reports of child cyber abuse in April were up 4-fold compared to last April. Calls for mental health and wellness checks are up by 1/3 in Utah County, Utah since February 1st.