New Brunswick’s 2014 Assault Increase Has Off-Campus Students Nervous

New Brunswick Police Station

New Brunswick Police Station

By: Dan Kilkenny

Aggravated assaults and assaults with weapons increased 47 percent in New Brunswick during 2014, according to New Jersey State Police crime statistics, and it has Rutgers students living off campus feeling nervous.

Police departments report these facts themselves to the Division of State Police, and the NBPD reportedly responded to 160 assault calls and of them 101 involved a deadly weapon.  There was a 65 percent increase alone in assaults involving firearms.  Robberies spiked during the year, as well, with a 34 percent increase.  Robberies that involved a knife or cutting instrument jumped from 0 in 2013 to 17 in 2014.

Rutgers senior Dan Omrani lives off campus, and he says that being attacked on the street is a constant fear. “To be honest I think about it when I’m walking alone at night,” Omrani said.  “It crosses my mind every time I’m walking alone, and it scares me.”

Violent crimes are defined as someone threatening with force on a victim, and altogether they went up 36 percent in the Hub City, whereas crime across the board jumped a modest 2 percent.

Assault and robbery statistics are divided into four categories pertaining to the weapon used: gun, knife or cutting instrument, other dangerous weapons, or aggravated (“strong arm” for robberies).  Aggravated, or strong-arm, is a term that describes crimes committed with hands, fists, feet, etc.  Each of these categories went up during 2014: guns up 65 percent, knives or cutting instruments up 43 percent, other dangerous weapons up 54 percent, and aggravated up 37 percent.

Marc Estriplet is a Rutgers student who keeps these stats in the back of his head and takes the proper precautions.  “[The stats] keep me more vigilant for sure,” Estriplet said.  “After a certain time I usually drive if I’m leaving my apartment.  If I am walking I’m not walking far, and it’s usually not too late.  If I am walking ten of fifteen minutes away I usually am not alone which is a big deterrent on anyone considering assault.”

Assaults decreased statewide by1 percent, but assaults with guns dropped 17 percent.  New Jersey also solved more than half of its serious assault cases as opposed to New Brunswick’s 32 percent.

It is unknown if the NBPD has taken any steps to remedy these crimes and sense of fear, but Omrani feels that for starters there should be more patrol cars.  “I don’t see as many patrol cars as I want to.  From what I see in our crime alerts, a lot of the crimes all happen around the same area so I wonder why cops aren’t around those areas.”

Estriplet agreed that a larger police presence could potentially ward off assaults, “I’m not an expert on police procedure, but a potential way for the police to make pedestrians feel safer is more uniformed officers in public locations.  I believe if you had the impression that an officer was nearby at all times you would feel safer.”

After numerous attempts to reach out, representatives from the NBPD could not be reached for a comment.