Newark Mayor Implementing Historic Change To Continue Positive Police, Community Relationship

As debates on police reform happen across the country, one New Jersey department is showing a positive police-and-community relationship. The mayor of Newark is now implementing a historic change to continue the trend and keep crime down; CBS2's Christina Fan reports.

Video Transcript

MAURICE DUBOIS: As debates on police reform happen across the country, one New Jersey department is showing a positive police and community relationship. And the mayor of Newark is now implementing a historic change to continue the trend and keep crime down. CBS2's Christina Fan has the story.

CHRISTINA FAN: Inside Newark's city hall, Mayor Ras Baraka announced major leadership changes within the Department of Public Safety, creating a deputy director of community relations and an advisory committee, all to be served by civilians.

RAS BARAKA: We need to have somebody that the community trusts and a group of people around him that come from the community that they trust as well.

CHRISTINA FAN: Building trust has been an ongoing mission for the police department in Newark. And it's seen success. Both 2019 and 2020 saw the city's lowest homicide rates in 60 years. Reverend Ronald Slaughter, the newly appointed deputy director of community relations, took the job to make sure the city stays on that trajectory.

RONALD SLAUGHTER: Building on the energy and momentum that Newark had in 2020 with no police involved shootings, building on that legacy as we move forward I think is paramount for our city.

CHRISTINA FAN: The mayor also announced Brian O'Hara as the city's new acting public safety director Tuesday. When asked what his number one priority was, his answer was also--

BRIAN O'HARA: As the mayor mentioned before, the issue of trust.

CHRISTINA FAN: O'Hara says de-escalation training and the formation of a community street team recently have helped rebuild relations. Perhaps the greatest testament of success was during last summer's protests surrounding George Floyd.

BRIAN O'HARA: While the rest of this country, all the other major cities in the United States exploded in violence this year, that didn't happen in Newark.

CHRISTINA FAN: The new public safety director says in addition to a decline in crime, the police department is also arresting fewer and fewer people every year. In Newark, New Jersey, Christina Fan, CBS2 News.

MAURICE DUBOIS: And the mayor also created the new role of deputy police director of operations. That position will help coordinate functions including crime prevention and policy development.