By Ricardo Kaulessar –Photo by Ricardo Kaulessar
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Paterson Mayor Joey Torres held a joint press conference Monday afternoon in Jersey CIty to launch a cross city partnership to share services such as police sharing information amongst departments for tracking criminals moving through those towns to employment training and prisoner reentry.
The press conference took place at the Hub Plaza on Martin Luther King Drive, about a mile away from the shooting death of Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago at a Walgreens pharmacy on July 13, and only blocks away from the site of a memorial (taken down by the city) for Lawrence Campbell, Santiago’s killer.
Fulop said that this partnership formed out of the three mayors recognizing that they “share similar challenges on the crime front.”
“There have been instances where the Paterson police have made arrests, significant arrests for people that the Jersey City police were looking for on significant crimes, and there’s significant examples of people making bad decisions here in Jersey City and going over the Wittpenn Bridge or the Pulaski Skyway and going to Newark,” Fulop said. “And there’s examples of people from Newark doing horrible things in Newark and coming towards Jersey City.”
Fulop then spoke about the importance of the new partnership.
“This is a significant day because it represents a significant partnership and a way of doing things going forward that we think will be meaningful and set an example in local, state and hopefully, federal politics, and government in how to work together moving forward,” Fulop said.
Baraka weighed in on working with his fellow mayors.
“It is a breath of fresh air to be able to work with Mayor Fulop and Mayor Torres around issues plaguing our cities collectively…it is a great opportunity for us to work together around issues of public safety, issues of foreclosure that are hitting our communities very hard,” Baraka said.
Torres said the partnership was vital in many ways to the respective towns they represent, especially when combatting crime.
“The recent tragic death of Genesis Rincon in Paterson and Officer Melvin Santiago in Jersey City broke our hearts but must never break our spirit. We owe it to our communities to act, doing nothing is an option,” Torres said.
Rincon was a 12-year old girl who was shot dead on July 5 while riding a scooter near her home. Three men were arrested and charged with her murder.
Torres said the first part of the shared partnership initiative that has gotten underway has been the sharing of intelligence between the Paterson Cease Fire Task Force and Newark Police Cease Fire unit.
Fulop said after the press conference that in the next four to eight weeks the three towns will be working on tangible goals such as drafting joint purchasing agreements from vendors to make bulk purchases from them such as road salt.
The partnership will include a roundtable discussion about shared services hosted by the three mayors in September at the Rutgers University campus in Newark.
Nearby residents sitting the plaza witnessed the conference. Among them was 45-year-old John Cee, who hoped the mayors’ new partnership will not just address primarily crime but also jobs.
“Hopefully, the major thing that I think besides the crime issue is jobs,” said Cee, who is currently between jobs. “Without jobs, you are at the bottom of the barrel. You should provide more job opportunities, open more factories.”