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How Newark Became a Model for Community-Based Violence Reduction

March 25, 2020

In 1996, Newark, New Jersey, was listed as the most dangerous city in the U.S. At the time, one out of 25 residents was the victim of a violent crime – Newark's crime rate was six times the national average. Nearly a quarter-century later, the city has made a valiant effort to adjust its standing.

In 2015, Mayor Ras J. Baraka founded the Newark Community Street Team (NCST) as a community-based solution to reduce violence in the city. Since the NCST was activated, crime has dropped in the South and West wards of Newark.

NCST’s efforts have helped to drive down crime across Brick City. According to the FBI’s crime report, 402 fewer crimes were committed in Newark in 2018 than in 2015. And in 2019, the NCTS reported zero murders within its catchment area.

In this webinar, “How Newark Became a Model for Community-Based Violence Reduction, NCTS Director, Aqeela Sherrills dicusses the impact the organization has had on violence in Newark as well as how NCST serves as an alternative to policing using a three-pronged approach. NCST focuses on safe passage, case management, and high-risk intervention to reduce crime.

The “safe passage” prong focuses on students’ commute to school and places outreach workers at key locations (stores, bus stops and school entry points) This allows trained professionals to intervene and mediate in personal conflicts that may arise. With “case management,” outreach workers offer to mentor teens and young adults ages 14 to 30, while helping them to achieve short-term life goals.

In the case of “high-risk intervention,” NCST team members, trained by the Professional Community Intervention Training Institute, connect community members with supportive counseling, crisis intervention assessment and mediation.

“Public safety has traditionally been considered the domain of law enforcement, but we’ve now come to understand that you can’t have ‘public safety’ without the public,” says Aqeela Sherrils, director of NCST.

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