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New Jersey Public Safety Collaborative contracted to help Wilmington curb crime

Delaware Public Media

The City of Wilmington saw a record high of 39 homicides in 2021. Now, they are partnering with a crime reduction organization to find solutions.

Wilmington City Council is working with the Community-Based Public Safety Collective from Newark, New Jersey, that specializes in violence reduction to produce an assessment of the city and suggestions to curb crime.

E. Ruebman, co-founder and Managing Director of the collective, said in two days of speaking with locals, a lot of “big-picture” concerns like the education system and racial injustice are at the forefront.

“There are resources, there is leadership in this community, that if properly trained and properly coordinated, can address your homicide crisis," Ruebman said to Wilmington City Council on Tuesday.

The collective’s work in Newark has produced significant results, says co-founder Aqeela Sherrills.

“In 2019, we had a sixty year low," Sherrills said about Newark. "We went from 103 murders in 2014 to 51 in 2019.”

Sherrills noted the success of the collective’s work since they’ve started to address violence as a public health issue.

“We’ve made lots of mistakes, we’ve failed miserably at many things, but we also believe that failure is a prerequisite for success," Sherrills said. "And so Wilmington will benefit from all the challenges that we’ve had, not only in Newark but across the country in terms of helping to build the capacity of organizations and bringing all of our relationships to bear on this.”

The collective has already started gathering feedback from locals, police, hospitals, local and state officials to get an idea of the city’s climate. Based on their findings, they can recommend how to structure public safety organizations and summarize the assets available to the city.

Representatives said that many states have used ARPA funding to establish an office of violence prevention, but have also succeeded in soliciting funds from local, state, federal, and philanthropic sources.

Council signed a $38,000 with the collective and expects a report to be finished by the end of June.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.