Most crimes remain unsolved by Rahway police

Rahway police solve fewer than one out of four reported crimes in the city, according to current State Police data. In four months, the city had three shootings in the city and none of the guns used in those crimes have been recovered by authorities.

That shoddy record is not stopping interim Mayor Samson Steinman from using taxpayer money to boast that violent crime is down more than 35 percent.

State Police data for Rahway 2013 shows that only 138 of 615 offenses were cleared. In 2012, 192 of 675 crimes were solved by police. While it is great that the number of crimes dropped from 763 in 2011, to 675 in 2012 and to 615 last year, it is disconcerting that police have become ineffective in bringing criminals to justice.

This is a failure of leadership because deployment and resource allocation are fundamental to the success of law enforcement. Rahway should ban local political involvement among police the same way federal employees are prohibited from partisan politics.

Rahway should also set traffic lights to overlap at key intersections with frequent auto collisions and stop robbing drivers with red light cameras that raked in $1.2 million last year. Replacing police with public health officials would make more sense than waging a war on drugs that has produced 40 years of failure.

Uniting police with the community must also be a priority for solving the problem of crime. We cannot expect society to embrace the people who would do us harm, but few people today recognize the police department’s mission ‘to protect and serve.’  This is particularly true among groups that are more prone to being victims of crime.

Finally, Rahway cannot stop crime or capture offenders by pretending this problem does not exist. Kids are shooting each other on our streets and city officials have been quiet. In this example of rising gun violence, the cover up is worse than the crime.

Real leaders know that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that it exists. Police failure to solve crimes, especially such brutal offenses as armed robbery and gun violence, is a problem that cannot be covered up because lives are at stake.

Two vying for mayor’s seat in Rahway

Rahway City Hall. / MARK R. SULLIVAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Rahway City Hall. / MARK R. SULLIVAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Written by
Suzanne Russell

 

RAHWAY — Unless an independent candidate jumps into the race, city voters will be deciding who will serve as the next mayor with the June 3 Democratic primary.

Democrat James J. Devine

Democrat James J. Devine

Incumbent Mayor Samson Steinman, running on the Regular Political Organization of Union County slate is being challenged by political strategist James J. Devine, running on the Democrats for Change slate in the primary. No Republicans filed to run for mayor this year.

Steinman, who served on council for 10 years, last fall became the city’s 50th mayor after Mayor Rick Proctor resigned three years into his first term in office. Proctor, a former Union County freeholder, had a number of disputes with City Council members.

Devine has been involved in politics for 35 years and has previously worked on campaigns for former Mayor James Kennedy and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-20th District, but has not held elective office.

Devine said he considers that an asset because those who have served in elective office have done “a terrible job.”

“The anti incumbent feeling is at an all time high,” said Devine, who led 1,150 federal employees as head of the 1990 Census operations in New Jersey, owned several private sector businesses and served as political director with the Democratic State Committee from 1992 to 1993.

Appointee Samson Steinman

Appointee Samson Steinman

Devine said one of the main issues in this year’s election is the 60 percent increase in taxes on city homes in the past 10 years, while companies like Merck received a tax reduction. He said some city homeowners are paying property taxes often two to three times higher than they should be.

He said City Hall has failed residents on a fundamental promise of tax fairness.

Steinman argued that Rahway is heading in the right direction.

In his short time as mayor the city has received $5 million in state, county and non profit funding to improve the local recreation center, while also receiving grants to address flooding and hazardous mitigation and improve facilities like the girls softball field.

Steinman said violent crime here is down more than 35 percent, according to the New Jersey Uniform Crime Report. Devine noted that the same report shows Rahway police solved only 23 percent of the crimes reported in the city and called that “a failure of leadership.”

The mayor, who has a master’s degree in business administration, said he has the experience to lead the city forward. A former Board of Education member who previously ran the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in Rahway, and formerly served as executive director of the Union County Performing Arts Center, Steinman is serving a 120-day appointment as the Hillside business administrator.

Originally published at http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20140410/NJNEWS10/304100027/Two-vying-mayor-s-seat-Rahway