Shooting Epidemic In Asbury Park, Community Resignation Setting In

Monmouth County Needs Regional Law Enforcement

There were three shootings in Asbury Park this afternoon, according to a report at NJ.com.

The shooting happened around noon on Mattison Avenue, near Langford Street, Detective Lt. David DeSane said. As of around 2 p.m., DeSane said he did not know the extent of the injuries.

Two people in the area, who asked not to be identified, said they heard four or five shots, but did not know what happened.

AsburyParkSun photo

AsburyParkSun photo

In the triCityNews last week, publisher Dan Jacobson said there have been four fatal shootings in the city, population 16,132, so far this year.

In their award winning series, Gripped by violence, published last October, four days before Superstorm Sandy, the Asbury Park Press said there had been an average of one shooting per week in Asbury Park through October 25, 2012 and that the city was second only to Camden in terms of violent crimes in New Jersey.  That’s right, Asbury Park is more dangerous than Newark, Trenton and Jersey City, where there were also three shootings today.

Jacobson’s AsburyParkSun has way to many stories about fatal and non-fatal shootings.

Jacobson, a former State Assemblyman, is arguably Asbury Park’s biggest cheerleader.  Yet his triCityNews column on Thursday is steeped in resignation.

Last weekend a twenty year old was shot and killed on the west side. It’s the fourth fatal shooting this year. And it’s heartbreaking.

A family is devastated. People aren’t safe in their homes and neighborhoods. And what’s most disturbing is that no one has an answer on how to stop this. All I hear are the stereotypical generalizations that give no solutions.

In the NJ.com story, City resident Joseph Dunbar, also expresses resignation.

City resident Joseph Dunbar said he was a few blocks away at Triumphant Life church when two officers came in and spoke to the ushers. Although he did not hear or see anything at Sunday’s incident, Dunbar said he has two daughters, ages 10 and 11, who have been caught in crossfire in the past but were not injured.

“It’s getting real dangerous for the little children to be out,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar said he participates in a program to talk to younger generations to see what they can do to help with the violence.

“I hate to say it’s a lost cause,” Dunbar said. “But that’s what it’s feeling like.”

Jacobson goes on in his triCityNews column.

Like saying it starts with family. Or we need more police on the streets. Wow, that really helps. Could someone tell me how we’re going to repair families? Or who’s going to pay to put more police on the streets? (emphasis added) And, even more importantly, will we let those police implement a program to pro-actively stop those they believe may be armed, and pat them down [a frisk] in the search of weapons.

As Jacobson would say if he was not resigned, “We’re here to help.”

Fixing families will take time and a community will driven by churches, educators, civic leaders, elected officials and law enforcement.  There is no lack of that will or those leaders in Asbury Park.  But none of that will work if there are not more police on the streets.  More prosecutor’s officers in the city and a tip line offering $5000 to snitches is not enough.

Who’s going to pay to put more police on the streets?  We are of course. By we, I mean the taxpayers of the State of New Jersey, and Monmouth County in particular, who are already paying 10’s of millions of dollars for Asbury Park’s municipal government through State aid,  the Asbury Park School System through Abbott funding and a satellite office of the Prosecutor’s Office.

And it should not cost a lot more money. Maybe less money than we are already spending.  It will take more of a moral and political will than money to stop the shooting epidemic and gang violence in Asbury Park.

Monmouth County has a surplus of police officers. While there looks to be a need for more officers in Asbury Park, in low crime towns, most of the county, honest police officers will tell you (I have heard more than one say it) that they are highly paid babysitters and traffic cops.

We need regional policing.  If our law enforcement was managed regionally, we could redeploy officers from Middletown, Wall, Ocean or Colts Neck to high crime areas like Asbury Park, without hiring more officers overall.

I can hear the nay-sayers, special interests and lovers of the status quo screaming as I write this.   Union heads, police chiefs protecting their turf and myopic politicians and bureaucrats.

The cost is too high not to share services.  The human cost and the economic cost.

Let’s be crass and focus on the money, because that is the language of myopic special interests.  Crime in Asbury Park is a drag on the Monmouth County economy.  An increase in violent crime, as we are experiencing, can kill the fragile renaissance that Asbury Park has been enjoying, despite the weak overall economy over the last 6 years.

A safe Asbury Park will boost jobs, investment and property values throughout the county.  A safe Asbury Park can flourish and grow to the point where it doesn’t need New Jersey taxpayers to fund its municipal operations and school system.

Camden, the only New Jersey city with higher violent crime per capita than Asbury Park, went to regional policing in April.  It’s working.  Daytime homicides declined 91% in the first 90 days of Camden County taking over law enforcement from the City of Camden.  Overall homicides declined 29%.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd announced her plan to layoff her city’s police force in favor of a county-wide department in August of last year.  It took over six months for the politicians and bureaucrats to make it happen.  That kind of delay is disgusting when viewed through the results the first three months of the new police force produced.  Politics and lawyering cost way too many lives during that delay.

Last week, Governor Chris Christie called on Mercer County to follow Camden’s lead to handle crime in Trenton, according to the Star Ledger.

“There’s no similarities to what’s going on in Trenton,” Christie said. “What’s going on in Trenton is what we used to do here in Camden, which is when things would spike we’d send in the State Police for a period of time to try to quell some of the violence. Then state police would leave and the violence would spike back up again.”

In Camden, a county police force replaced city officers, a tactic some have criticized as a union-busting scheme. Christie said another 100 police officers will hit the streets in December.

“It’s a good trend, but we’re not taking any victory laps over one quarter,” Christie said, referring to what he said were positive crime stats.

He praised Camden County freeholders and encouraged Mercer County freeholders to follow suit.

“Now that’s going to take the political courage they had here in Camden,” Christie said. “So let’s stop playing the public sector union politics and let’s start playing the public safety priority in this state.”

Why not Monmouth County?  Politics and myopia.

The people who can stop the violence in Asbury Park Monmouth County read this website or have staffers who read it for them.  Legislators, Freeholders, Asbury Park elected officials and others, you know who you are. Get busy.  Kids are dying.

“Now that’s going to take the political courage they had here in Camden. So let’s stop playing the public sector union politics and let’s start playing the public safety priority in this state.”

-Governor Chris Christie.




Posted: August 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Asbury Park, Crime, Crime and Punishment, Dan Jacobson, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth County Prosecutor, Monmouth County Sheriff's Office | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

10 Comments on “Shooting Epidemic In Asbury Park, Community Resignation Setting In”

  1. Gene B. said at 8:20 pm on August 25th, 2013:

    Success is not evidence of right/wrong. If you tied up everyone’s arms and legs and threw them in a cell, there would be zero crime.

    The more central control, the more out of control.

    Not having any experience with this problem, it is hard for me to properly articulate the methods needed to maintain independence of police work.

    However, there must be a way to share resources while still maintaining small town control. Perhaps there could be an accounting system that allows each municipality to call for assistance as needed and get properly credited financially. In the case of a dispute among districts, the elected sheriff can resolve the differences.

    But we should never go to a higher central control and risk losing citizen power.

  2. Bulldozer said at 8:54 pm on August 25th, 2013:

    A smart US senate candidate once suggested bulldozing Camden. A valid answer is to bulldoze all of Asbury Park and make it a state park.

    It’s just like school, separate the problem kids; and bulldozing a town full of barely to code affordable housing is cheaper than decades of more police.

  3. Proud Republican said at 9:17 pm on August 25th, 2013:

    The people who can stop the violence are the ones who create it in the first place. Stop having ten kids, stop with the welfare, stay in school and work hard like the rest of us. No big secret. I also have to laugh – in the APP the residents are whining that they need more cops. When the cops do their job, they scream police brutality. Until the community takes responsibility for their own actions and stop looking for the government to solve all their problems, nothing will change. And until the black community embraces the police, I suggest the cops stay out of harms way and let the gang members kill each other. Looks like George Zimmerman was right after all. He removed one of the gangstas before he could hurt anyone else. Maybe send him to AP?

  4. frithguild said at 10:58 am on August 26th, 2013:

    Compare Springwood Ave. of the 1940’s and 1950’s to how it is now. You can blame the perpetrators all you want. It will change nothing until you change the incentives that attract rational people to illegal activities.

  5. D Davis said at 10:38 pm on August 26th, 2013:

    Asbury Park has struggled with violence and poverty far too long. People go full circle, they care, they succeed, they fail, they lose faith… Values differ from community to community, and unfortunately there are generations who share warped values that will never win. Generations without jobs or a chance to improve their quality of life. Generations who believe they’re screwed over by the police, the rich, the workers, and the conspiracies that these groups working against them.

    It’s a war, that will not be won as long as this is passed along from generation to generation. Education may save a few, a good cop might save one too, and kind employer may too, but the majority lose.

    Finally I’ll add, as a twenty-five year veteran police officer, union officer, paramedic, and taxpayer it is not just a law enforcement problem. But, I know Asbury Park could use more good cops, that they cannot afford. Regionalization or a county police should be really considered. Perhaps as a task force with officers from other communities to start. As the circle goes on, so does the failure of AP to be as good as she could be.

  6. Not in Asbury said at 7:27 am on August 27th, 2013:

    So you expect the rest of the county to share their police with Asbury Park, all because Asbury is unable to solve its own problems. How about let’s start with the corruption in Asbury and bring in a real police force who can be effective?

  7. Jason said at 12:55 pm on August 27th, 2013:

    Lets put this in to perspective. It’s not like gangs are out there shooting and killing random visitors to Asbury Park. Most of these shootings all happen in the same part of town. And it is gangs shooting gangs. Not gangs shooting white folks eating high priced meals on the boardwalk or downtown. The city is relatively safe in the downtown, oceanfront, north east and north west areas. There is a small portion on the southwest side of town where many of these shootings and violet crimes happen. I’m not saying its a good thing but lets stop suggesting that the whole of Asbury is this horribly unsafe place. It’s a city. And shootings happen in every city. This is not a problem unique to Asbury Park. I think you’re solution for regional policing however is the best option for controlling crime in Asbury Park. Will it ever happen? Probably not.

  8. Jason said at 12:58 pm on August 27th, 2013:

    To the above post (Not in Asbury) What an ignorant post. Corruption in the police force was straightened out a long time ago. That is not an issue anymore. Chief Kinmon has been a godsend here and the department has a new influx of officers, new equipment, patrol cars, etc. The entire force has been updated in the past 5 years or so. Suggesting that the police force isn’t real is just plain dumb.

  9. @Not in Asbury said at 1:32 pm on August 27th, 2013:

    What a foolish statement. Governor Christie sent state police in Camden and Trenton due to the fact crime with weapons is out of control. Furthermore, those towns are understaffed as is the Asbury Park Police Department.

    The county prosecutor has at his disposal numerous county law enforcement assets– the only problem is he refuses or fails to realize he can utilize them– namely the police trained members of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department.

    Where the hell is Sheriff Golden on this matter??? Is he too busy campaigning for his job??? Spending way too much time garnering campaign money???

    Get your sworn officers in collaboration with APPD and form a task force–either with your own men and APPD or with all the police departments in the county. It’s called a TASK force. The same type of cooperation that is used to get drunk drivers at key locations throughout the county.

    Do something already Mr. Sheriff and Mr. Prosecutor, before more lives are wasted and tourism–which has been the key to economic revival– declines, bringing Asbury Park down with it!

  10. A Dream Remembered | NJ News Commons said at 4:35 pm on August 28th, 2013:

    […] On More Monmouth Musings, Art Gallagher pulls together reporting from several sources of the course of years (from NJ.com to the Asbury Park Sun to TriCity News to the Asbury Park Press) to take a wide view of violence in Asbury Park — and ponder what might be done. […]