NB crime on the rise?
By: Mackenzie Deerin and Caroline Merejo
In the city of New Brunswick New Jersey, citizens views of safety, police presence, and discrimination differ depending on the individual’s demographic. It was found that people’s sentiments towards safety and police presence ranged from feelings of safety in neighborhoods with a strong police presence to a lack of safety and a feeling of being discriminated against by police
The city of New Brunswick has a crime rate that is 20% higher than the national average and this statistic brings up the question of how safe the residents feel in their own neighborhoods. Within New Brunswick’s 5.789 square miles, numerous demographics reside in the city and those residing around the downtown area feel there is more police presence and those further from downtown in minority neighborhoods feel there is a small police presence.
In New Brunswick, every individual has a 1 in 29 chance of being a victim of any crime, and this includes violent crimes such as rape and murder. Annually, there are four reported incidents of murder, eighteen reported incidents of rape, two hundred twenty two reported incidents of rape, and one hundred seventy four incidents of reported assault. There are also five hundred twenty three reported incidents of burglary, nine hundred seventy nine incidents of theft, and eighty incidents of vehicle theft annually.
The downtown, George Street area of New Brunswick is known for its many restaurants, businesses, and arts. Businesses such as Johnson & Johnson are located in this area and so is the State Theatre and the George Street Playhouse. Although this may seem to be a safer area of the city, some people who frequent the area have a concern about the level of police protection in the area.
One male worker for Johnson & Johnson explained how he felt safe in New Brunswick and that there was enough police presence, while the a second man disagreed. The second man stated that at night George Street was very empty and could use a stronger police presence.
Ethella Frukhtman, a server at the restaurant Old Man Rafferty’s located on Albany Street, explained her feelings about working in the area. Frukhtman stated, “There is definitely a police presence, but i wouldn’t describe it as necessarily ‘strong.’ I always see a police car driving on George Street but it feels more like a passer-by than an active protection.”
Although the people interviewed stated that the feel generally safe in the George Street area, there was a consensus that there could be a stronger police presence in the evening.
Not all citizens of New Brunswick feel safe, and many feel discriminated against.
A Hispanic mother was interviewed and expressed her sentiments on safety and police presence. When asked how she felt about police presence in New Brunswick, she responded, “bad.” The woman proceeded to explain that if someone who is not fluent in English calls the police, the police are not quick to help the situation.
This resident discussed how the Spanish speaking community feels discriminated against, and that the police are much more likely to cater to the needs of students and business people than the Hispanic and Latino families that reside in the area.
About 50% of the New Brunswick population is classified as Hispanic or Latino. This is an extremely large community that feels personally discriminated against by the police force, which leads them to feel unsafe in their own community.
A lawyer, who was born in New Brunswick, attended Rutgers, and currently practices on Joyce Kilmer Avenue, explained that he feels very safe in New Brunswick and believes there is a strong police presence. As seen in the video interviews, this man thinks the larger crime problem is rambunctious student population from Rutgers University.
There have been numerous crime instances around Easton Avenue and to get an inside perspective, Austin Niblett, a bouncer at the bar Olde Queens, was asked a couple questions regarding police presence and safety at night on Easton Ave.
Niblett stated, “I believe there is a decent police presence at night but would like more of a presence during the hours of 2-3 a.m. I’ve seen fights and trouble such as property damage outside of Queens while I’ve been cleaning up. Although there have been a few instances where I’ve seen cops get there in time to prevent further altercation and make some arrests, I’ve also seen fights finished where someone is lying in the middle of the pavement and cops show up after the fact with ambulances.”
Police officials would not answer questions for this story and video saying it was against protocol.