ESSEX COUNTY ANTI-CRIME PARTNERSHIP RECLAIMS IRVINGTON
STREET CORNER & PAINTS OVER GANG GRAFFITI
Irvington, N.J. - Attorney General Peter Harvey and the members of the Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership today painted over gang graffiti on the corner of Springfield Avenue and 21st Street in Irvington, which was, up until today, one of the city's most active locations for drug distribution and gang activity. The painting followed the announcement of police sweeps and arrests in this area signaling the end of gang rule of this notorious corner. Additionally, the partnership recapped the past year's operations since beginning full-scale State Police patrols in the crime-ridden areas of Irvington.
"We are improving the quality of life in this neighborhood-and throughout the city of Irvington-by continuing to reclaim the streets from gangs, drug dealers and other threats to public safety and peace of mind," Attorney General Harvey said. "However, our work is far from finished. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal - both here in Irvington and throughout the State - to reduce the level of violence and rid communities of crime that robs law-abiding citizens of the opportunity to enjoy their homes, and their neighborhoods."
"These operations are an eviction notice to the criminals who have taken over the streets that rightfully belong to the people of Irvington," said Colonel Fuentes "I'm proud of the effects our State Troopers and the other members of the Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership have created in this city, but our work will continue until law and order are restored."
The Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership was officially launched on the morning of August 14, 2003, during an event that was "overshadowed" by the Northeast Blackout that occurred later that day. Since then, the partnership has amassed impressive statistics including:
- 900+ arrests
- 4,633+ criminal charges
- 325+ fugitive arrests
- $52,430+ in currency seized
- 48+ firearms confiscated
- 600+ motor vehicle summonses
- 138+ vehicles impounded
The Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership combines the strengths of the State Police with the Irvington Police Department, Essex County Sheriff's Department, Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Department of Corrections, Juvenile Justice Commission, Air National Guard, Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Rutgers University Institute for Police Studies. The partnership is aiming to dramatically reduce street crime in response to requests for aid from the Irvington Police Department and the citizens of Irvington.
Major Ralph Rivera, Jr., Commanding Officer of the Community Partnership Section, sees the effort as an example of the New Paradigm of Partnerships. "The State Police can most effectively improve the situation in high crime areas by building a rapport with civic and faith-based groups, strengthening relationships with local and county law enforcement, and then confronting the problems with the combined strengths of everyone," said Rivera. "The response we received from the citizens in Irvington has been positive and it tells us the partnership is right on the track."
In addition to uniformed and undercover patrols of high crime areas, troopers in the State Police Commercial Carrier Unit have been targeting certain Irvington Streets for truck inspections where drivers have been known to solicit prostitutes. Troopers in the highly successful State Police Street Gang Unit (S.G.U.) arrested 65 members of the Champagne Posse, a Jamaican-based street gang responsible for a large percentage of the Marijuana trade in Essex County.
As a part of the Attorney General's Gangs, Guns & Drugs Initiative, the S.G.U., in cooperation with Division of Criminal Justice investigators and other partnership members, have made a dramatic impact throughout the state. Since August of 2002, they have arrested and/or indicted 126 gang members including:
- 18th Street Gang - New Brunswick - 4 indicted (12/03) for drive-by shootings - All convicted and serving state prison sentences from 5-12 years
- Latin Kings - 47 arrested/indicted from October 2002 through May 2003 - Over half of the defendants have pled guilty or convicted. Sentences range from 15 years in state prison for the leaders to three years. The average sentence is 6-7 years, mostly for drug offenses.
- Champagne Posse - 65 arrests/indictments in August 2003 of gang members operating in Essex County. Defendants are in various stages of prosecution.
- 10 members of an organized Atlantic City drug gang arrested on 3/11/03. Pending indictments.
The Essex County Anti-Crime Partnership got its start in 2002 when Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith approached Colonel Fuentes requesting assistance with a growing problem with street gang violence and drug dealers.
To help continue the broad-based support, Smith and Irvington Police Director Michael Damiano facilitate weekly meetings between community action groups, block associations, clergy and law enforcement.
NOTE: Call State Police Public Information for data on today's arrests.
Numbers listed at top.
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