The de-escalation program that officers participated in two years ago has helped bring down the number of shots fired to zero
The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers spurred the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. At a time we are reporting police officers shooting and killing African-Americans regularly, the city of Newark stands out. Not a single police officer from Newark's force fired their weapon while on duty in 2020, in spite of clashes, and attacks that marred 2020. Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the stat was thanks to a de-escalation program implemented in Newark two years ago. "These things, it takes time for it to work. And I think it worked," said Ambrose, reported News12 New Jersey. He is proudest of the time his force handled a tough situation during the Black Lives Matter movement. “We had protests, and they tried to take over of one of our precincts," said Ambrose. More than 1700 protesters surrounded a precinct with the intention of taking over, on May 30. The force defused the situation without a single bullet being fired. No one was severely injured either. It was a test of their de-escalation program and it worked. In 2019, the Newark officers had filed 5 bullets but in 2020, they brought it down to zero.
In 2020, not a single officer in Newark fired his or her weapon while on duty - a remarkable milestone. De-escalation training is proven and effective.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 3, 2021
Alongside our new use-of-force policy, we are building a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all. https://t.co/sI9WWvpqjP
While not firing bullets at civilians should be the norm, Newark's achievement still stands out considering the number of trigger friendly cops we have around the country. Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose described 2020 as the roughest year in his 34-year career in law enforcement. The police force worked through the anti-police brutality protests during the summer while having to navigate the pandemic that cost the lives of some police officers. Newark lost six of their 1,100 officers to Coronavirus while dozens of officers fell sick after being exposed to it on the job. "It was the unknown. It was the unknown that you didn’t know with this disease that you were coming here every day, and these police officers and firefighters going out there, and we didn't know," said Ambrose. Coronavirus also took a toll on their mental health. “We lost six police officers and going to six funerals, it all wears on you," he added.
The police force also reported crime was down by 6% this year, in Newark. The city reported 51 homicides, the same as 2019. Non-fatal shootings increased to 61 and involved multiple victims. Police officers worked to keep guns off the streets and recovered 496 illegal firearms. It was a 7% increase from last year when the cops recovered 461 illegal weapons off the streets. "I'm proud of the men and women of Newark police division who took the guns off the street this year. Didn't fire a shot, came to work during a pandemic, arrested people with guns during the pandemic," said Ambrose.
Newark stands out at a time cops are still not being held accountable for firing at African Americans, more often than at unarmed people. As we reported, last month, an unarmed Black man named Andre Hill was fatally shot in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer. Mayor Andrew Ginther called out the reckless act of police officer Adam Coy. He was subsequently fired. The incident happened after someone dialed 911 and informed emergency services that a man had been sitting in an SUV for an extended period of time while repeatedly turning the ignition on and off. The cops arrived to investigate the scene and saw an open garage door with a man inside. He was holding a cell phone and was shot within seconds of the cops arriving. He had no weapon on him. He was rushed to the hospital where he died an hour later. The cop was subsequently fired after body-camera footage was released by the cops.