Mayor Ras Baraka highlights development, jobs and crime during Newark State of the City Address

Cyril Josh Barker | 3/30/2017, 11:02 a.m.
Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka recently presented his third State of the City Address.
Ras Baraka

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka recently presented his third State of the City Address. Speaking in the Prudential Hall of New Jersey Performing Arts Center, he discussed several issues, including public safety, jobs and economic development.

The speech highlighted the accomplishments of Baraka’s administration and the new initiatives he’s working on with residents and organizations.

Baraka touched on the $2 billion in development underway and discussed his determination to ensure that all Newark residents and neighborhoods benefit from the city’s increasing prosperity.

“Newark is a growing city, a prosperous city, a place to open your business, a bourgeoning destination,” he said. “This is exactly where we want to be. And we are working intensively on many fronts to make sure that the benefits of new development and investment are shared by all of our residents and all of our neighborhoods throughout all of our five wards.”

He also announced the Hire. Buy. Live. Newark plan aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment. The program is a collaboration between the city’s business community, the City of Newark, higher education and medical institutions, clergy, philanthropies and workforce development programs.

The “Hire” portion will connect the city’s unemployed to full-time living wage jobs by the year 2020, “Buy” will commit anchors and other large businesses to buy more in the city and “Live” will attract more employees to live in the city to spur population growth.

“Newark will be a national model for urban economic development and corporate/civic responsibility as well as to break new ground in demonstrating that important solutions to economic inequality can come from the leadership of our cities,” Baraka said.

When it comes to crime, the mayor said one cause of Newark’s reduction in crime to the lowest level in 50 years is the fact that the city is building better police/community relations.

Newark recently created a citizen survey to hear directly from residents their experiences with the police, both negative and positive. Local clergy and police patrols have also been working together along with the addition of two community officers per precinct. Last year, police were able to get 500 guns off the street and police discharged their weapons only three times.

“We believe that one reason why we are having some success in reducing crime is because Newark has become a national leader in working to repair the relationship between the police and the community,” Baraka said. “More trust and increased community involvement helps prevent crimes and helps the police do a better job of apprehending those who commit crimes.”

Panasonic is working on a system to assist Newark in monitoring crime in neighborhoods. At least 125 “hot spots” throughout the city have been identified for the camera system. Residents will be able to use their personal computers and phones to monitor the cameras on their block and make anonymous complaints directly to the department.

One camera is currently in every ward to test the technology, and the system was demonstrated at the State of the City Address.

“We obviously do not have the personnel to man every block 24 hours a day, so we have invested in a camera system that will allow residents to become more involved in making their neighborhoods safer,” Baraka said.